Coffee and art just go hand in hand.

We’ve all seen that Hollywood stereotype of the artistic hipster working on their latest book of poetry or sketching a design at that local coffee shop.

With a café latte in hand and wearing a beret, who wouldn’t fit in with the artsy hipster vibe of most coffee shops?

Coffee shop painting sketchbook artist the story of coffee

Maybe it’s the caffeine that fuels creativity.

Perhaps it’s mingling with the artists and musicians that seem to always hang out at cafes.

Or, is it just being surrounded by spectacular art that graces the walls of that coffee shop near you? 

For whatever reason, art goes with coffee like cream with espresso, making something great even better!

So how did this whole coffee and art thing get started?  

Coffee Ads get Creative

When we look back to the first combinations of art and coffee, we see its use in advertising coffee companies around 1870.

By this time brands were realizing the powerful and persuasive nature of using attractive illustrations to grow their name recognition.

Vintage Lion Coffee advertisement - the story of coffee


Mass-Produced Color Printing

New technologies in printing allowed vibrant colors to be mass-produced around this same time.

So, of course, advertisers were some of the first to find clever ways to utilize these Victorian-era advancements.

Trading cards featuring consumer brands became a popular collectible for homemakers throughout the country.

Coffee trading card laughlins coffee bird-family - the story of coffeeCoffee trading card ozama coffee boy and bee - the story of coffee Coffee trading card austin nichols new york -the story of coffeeCoffee Trading Card Reeves Parvin - the story of coffee


A New Art Form

Privat-Livemont Rajah Coffee advertising Poster, Amsterdam, 1898 - The Story of Coffee

Rajah Coffee by Henri Privat-Livemont – 1898

Soon enough a new art movement brewing in Paris at the end of the 19th century would make a huge splash in the worlds of coffee and art!



Art Nouveau Advertising Posters

At a time when premium coffee producers were looking for novel ways to attract new consumers, the Art Nouveau movement was in full bloom.

Graphic arts in this style became a perfect match for promoting worldly products like absinthe, coffee and cigarettes.


Cafes Torrefies by Henri Privat-Livemont – 1898

Art Nouveau was defined by glamorous women draped in flowing dress, surrounded by elegant curls and swirls.

But did you know, it was originally inspired by Japanese prints and textiles?

This style of art was ideal to express the elegance that coffee drinkers aspired to at the time.


Artful Advertising

Early on in the 20th century, newer styles of poster-art ads became popular. Leonetto Cappiello is considered the father of modern advertising because of his poster art for various brands.

He used vibrant, dynamic images on muted backgrounds that would make the focus of the ad visually pop. It was a compelling art style that grabbed peoples’ attention in a fast-paced new century.


Victoria Arduino Espresso by Leonetto Cappiello – 1922

One of Cappiello’s most famous works is a poster advertising manufacturer Victoria Arduino’s espresso machines from 1922. It features a man in a bright yellow jacket and a stylish white hat.

He’s leaning out of a train car to get a cup of delicious espresso from the Victoria Arduino machine.

If their espresso is that good, who wouldn’t jump out of a moving train for a chance to grab one!

Coffee lovers are fond of many other works by Cappiello. In his poster for Café Martin, a genie emerges on a billowing cloud of steam rising from a cup of perfectly poured cup of coffee.


CAFÉ MARTIN by Leonetto Cappiello – 1921


Roaring 20s brings Art Deco

It’s hard to believe that it’s now been a hundred years since the 1920s ushered in a new sense of optimism and independence.

Art styles at that time were changing too. A newer, more refined and sophisticated style came in to sweep out the old.



Art Deco was a vast departure from the intricate and elaborate organic elements of Art Nouveau.

It’s simple shapes and clean lines were reflected in architecture (think Chrystler Building in NYC), women’s hairstyles, and yes of course advertising posters.


Illy Caffe Poster by XANTI SCHAWINSKY 1934

Once New, Now Vintage

Vintage coffee posters have an elegant and worldly flair, just like us coffee lovers, right?

They’re fun and interesting to gaze at while you enjoying your favorite hot drink.

And, they’re an essential part of the coffee culture and history of coffee throughout the world.


This advertising art took an already famous drink and helped elevate the coffee experience to something cosmopolitan and sophisticated.

Coffee was (and still is!) the perfect drink for a fast-paced world.

This art style is perfect for decorating a coffee shop, local diner, or even a coffee lover’s home!

What’s your favorite vintage coffee art poster?

Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author

Jonnie Coffee

Hi, I'm Jonnie Coffee. As a researcher and artist with a massive passion for all things related to coffee, I started this blog as a "digital homage" to my favorite beverage. Feel free to contact me if you have any comments, questions, suggestions, or even, just for some coffee talk.

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