How to: Coffee Tie-dye

Travis, our Marketing Specialist and his daughter Cam.

If we can dye it, we probably will.

Hi, Travis here, Marketing Specialist at Groundwork Coffee. Tie-dye for my family is a fun, easy way to give some of our less glamorous (more stained) stuff a second life. We got into it during our summer camp counselor years in college and haven’t stopped. Since then, we’ve dyed the napkins for our wedding, onesies for our baby, and too many mismatched socks to count.

It’s a relatively easy thing to do that’s virtually mistake-proof, plus the more you do it, the more you find what kind of dyes and ties you like! We started playing with coffee and cold brew as a pigment when I got into the coffee industry in 2018. Being a coffee professional meant nearly unlimited access to spent coffee grounds, and cold brew is such an easy thing to do at home!

When prepping coffee pigment, we usually make a particular batch of nearly undrinkable super strong cold brew (double or triple the standard dose, plus we use a finer grind) and throw some extra grounds in there just for fun. To make the dye even more vibrant, we’ve played around with adding fortifying agents, but that’s definitely going above and beyond in my opinion.

One of the most important things to remember is to be patient!

Ultimately the longer you let each step take, the more vibrant your design will be. For the sake of brevity and ease of use, we’ve broken down what can be a lengthy process into four basic steps:

1. Prep your Fabric
Tie or bound whatever you want to dye and then steep it in water and soda ash(Not too much) for about an hour. Light, bright non-synthetic fabrics work best.

2. Ready your Dye
Dunk prepped clothes in your coffee dye. Something to keep in mind is the darker the roast, = the darker the tint.

3. Time to soak
Let it soak for at least an hour; the longer the soak = darker and more vibrant the design. Remove garments from dye, let sit for an hour, then submerge into dye fixative (you can get this at any hobby store). This helps retain the pigment.

4. Be patient!
We know you want to see your creation asap, but the longer you let it sit, the better your design will be. Just like grandma used to say, patience makes perfect! In the end, have fun with it!

Remember, there are no right and wrong when it comes to tie-dyeing. Don’t get too caught up in trying to make the perfect swirl, and enjoy the process!