Expression of Espresso

Today in the Duluth News Tribune, the Coffee Artists™ were featured in a nice article talking about their Coffee Art® titled: EXPRESSION OF ESPRESSO

Coffee Art® featured in the Duluth News Tribune article 'Expression of Espresso'

Coffee Art® featured in the Duluth News Tribune article 'Expression of Espresso'

COFFEE ART:A Duluth couple’s paintings are displayed in coffee shops and art galleries around the world. 



For many, the word brings to mind the brew’s strong aroma, distinct taste, warmth and energizing caffeine.

But coffee is much more than a drink to Angel Sarkela-Saur and Andy Saur. To them, coffee is a form of expression; it is a medium for art.

“You never know what that cup of coffee could turn into,” Angel said.

During the past five years, the Duluth couple, both 28-year-old graduates of the University of Minnesota Duluth, have been painting with coffee.

Angel and Andy mix coffee grounds with various amounts of water to create different shades of brown.

The brewing and mixture process is a bit more complicated than that, the couple said, but they don’t want to give away their recipe for painting. They use traditional paint brushes.

The couple’s art has been growing in popularity and has been displayed at coffee shops and art galleries throughout the nation and world, including locations in California, Finland, Iceland and Africa. Angel and Andy have also been featured on the Food Network.

Their art will be on display at Vanilla Bean Bakery and Cafe in Two Harbors from Tuesday through Sept. 20.

Angel has a marketing degree and Andy has a degree in graphic design. Both have always been interested in drawing and painting. Andy also creates wood carvings.

In 2000, the couple decided to participate in an art showing at the Duluth coffee shop Beaner’s Central, one of their hangouts.

“We wanted to do something different,” Angel said.

So, they tried making art with coffee, first trying to draw with coffee grounds. When that didn’t work, they mixed coffee with water and tried painting with it.

They brought 30 coffee paintings to the show at Beaner’s. All of them sold.

“We had such great support, we thought, ‘We’ve really got a good thing going here,’ ” Andy said.

The couple have created hundreds of paintings since their first show, usually using coffee from Alakef. There is no brand that is particularly difficult to paint with, they said.

Nature scenes, portraits, depictions of daily life and Scandinavian images are all splashed on canvasses with nostalgic-looking brown, amber and beige hues of coffee. Angel and Andy have strong Scandinavian backgrounds that they often incorporate into their art.Coffee Art® featured in the Duluth News Tribune article 'Expression of Espresso'

One of Andy’s favorite paintings is called “Nordic Storm of Fury,” which depicts a wind god blowing a Viking ship across the sea.

Their studio, which is also their guest bedroom, often has several paintings hanging from a line to dry. The studio itself is sponge-painted with espresso.

“The smell was pretty intense in there for the first couple days,” Andy said.

Among the paintings hanging in the studio are portraits that people from around the world have requested. Angel and Andy have painted people’s friends, relatives and pets.

Ray Mamrak of Clayton, N.J., saw Angel and Andy on the Food Network more than a year ago and requested that his Chihuahua, Rocky, be painted. The coffee colors looked like the colors of his dog, Mamrak said.

Rocky, who was found by Mamrak’s son in a landfill five years ago, died shortly before he made the request.Coffee Art® featured in the Duluth News Tribune article 'Expression of Espresso'

Angel and Andy painted the dog perfectly, Mamrak said, and the painting hangs above his fireplace.

“It’s probably the most cherished possession I have,” Mamrak said. “You can tell that they really cared when they did this picture.”

UMD Vice Chancellor Greg Fox owns four of the couple’s paintings.

“To have that kind of talent in the community is just wonderful,” Fox said.

Though some of the coffee is pretty thick in areas of pictures that require darker shades, Angel and Andy said they have never had a problem with mold or animals trying to eat their art.

Despite being constantly surrounded by coffee, the couple is not as jittery as might be expected. Andy doesn’t even like coffee unless it’s loaded with so many other ingredients that he can’t taste it.

The couple’s Boston terrier, Gidget, was purchased with the money earned at their first show and is quite frisky. One night, the couple dipped Gidget’s paws in coffee and let her run around on some paper.

She was so wild afterward that Angel painted a picture of the dog’s face to capture the moment.

“We think some of the caffeine soaked into her paws,” Angel said.

Gidget has been the subject of several paintings.

Angel and Andy hope to turn their hobby into their full-time job.

“Our goal is to travel the world and paint from our experiences,” Angel said.

But the couple said they will always have a home in Duluth.

They said many people have a real connection to coffee and that has helped increase the popularity of their art, but they hope people see more than java smeared on paper.

“We don’t want people to think it’s just a gimmick,” Andy said. “We hope that people don’t get too caught up in just the coffee.”

And with coffee paintings everywhere, an espresso-painted room, various coffee mixtures on the counter and a rambunctious dog, Angel and Andy manage to maintain a beige carpet with no coffee stains.


Coffee Art® featured in the Duluth News Tribune article 'Expression of Espresso'

Coffee Art® featured in the Duluth News Tribune article 'Expression of Espresso'

Coffee Art® featured in the Duluth News Tribune article 'Expression of Espresso'