This work was created as the result of a collaborative effort between Juan Gris and the poet Pierre Reverdy, Au soleil du plafond, an album comprised of chromolithographs and poems, authored by both men. Each poem was to be written, as Reverdy points out, "soulignant la gravure le concernant", that is, underlining the corresponding lithograph. Coffee Grinder, Cup and Glass on a Table belongs to one of these pairs. The project was abandoned, probably because of the war (paper rationing, contractual problems with Gris' new dealer), and, in part, because of the arrival on the scene of another poet, the Chilean Vicente Huidobro, with whom Gris quickly became close friends. In April of 1917, Reverdy, with a certain degree of irony, extended a welcome to Huidobro on a sample page of the project.
Gris' poetic evolution took another step during the preparation of this work. The artist had designed Coffee Grinder, Cup and Glass on a Table as the publication's frontispiece. Reverdy's poem, in this case literally pasted onto the picture, illustrates the type of poetic manipulation that was frequent in the painter's milieu, influenced by Mallarmé and the creation of a mental process that was autonomous and generative, yet based on experience:
On the cloth were a few grains of powder or coffee. War or respite on fronts which wrinkle together. The fragrance mingled with the calls of evening, the world closes its eyes and the mill ground black like our heads. In the circle of voices, a cloud rises. A pane of glass at the lip that muddles our thoughts.
In Reverdy's poems there is a continual succession of objects, either as flat entities or as presences that are powerfully evocative in the dramatic interaction. The objects have an effect very similar to the visual rhythm found in Gris' painting and in the poetry of Mallarmé, whom, according to Kahnweiler, Gris venerated.