Coffee is one of the best ways to give something an aged, weathered look that fits well with rustic decor and gives an impression of being lived-in. Since even filtered coffee has grit and texture, you get a natural unevenness that many people find quite appealing when you dye fabric with it.
Wash the fabric. It is important to start with a clean fabric. Before you dye something, you'll need to soak it anyway, so a good wash accomplishes both simultaneously.
Brew the coffee. There are no rules here. You can use any coffee you like and any brewing method. One important consideration is the roast level. Dark roasts will produce a darker dye than light roasts, although how long you soak the fabric also determines the final color. We recommend starting with a medium roast and soaking for longer if you want a darker fabric.
Put the fabric in the bowl. Any bowl will do, but it is preferable to have a large enough bowl to fit whatever you're dyeing with minimal bunching. If your fabric is bunched up during the dyeing process, you'll wind up with an uneven effect resembling tie-dye.
Pour the coffee over the fabric. Pour hot coffee over the fabric evenly. Use a wooden spoon to stir the coffee so that the fabric soaks evenly. If you don't have a wooden spoon, you can use another material, but try to avoid metal. Metal spoons with sharp edges can damage the fabric.
Let it soak. Let the fabric sit in the coffee until it reaches the desired color. It can be tricky to decide when to finish the dyeing process if this is your first time. For an average-strength roast, a few minutes will produce a light tan. The longer you leave the fabric in the coffee, the darker the color will become. About 30 minutes is enough to achieve a relatively dark tone, but we have seen some people leave the fabric to soak overnight when they want a deep, rich brown. Unfortunately, only trial and error will help you determine how long to soak to get your desired outcome.
Soak in vinegar. When your fabric reaches the desired color, remove it from the bowl and wring it out. Fill a bowl with hot water and 1-3 tablespoons of vinegar. Adjust the amount of vinegar to match the size of the fabric. One tablespoon of vinegar is good for small items, but larger fabrics like tablecloths and curtains need four or five. Put the garment in the vinegar solution and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Let it dry, and iron it. After soaking in the vinegar mixture for about 10 minutes, remove the fabric and let it dry completely. Once the fabric is completely dry, iron it to set the color.