"You think he's just your average homeless guy and you don't pay much attention to him," said Marc Foster of Newport Beach.
But Gisberto Bertucci, known as Bert, has a talent.
"He does beautiful work and he does it in a couple of minutes," said Partrick Ward, another Newport Beach resident.
The 70-year-old Bertucci started sketching the regulars.
"I think the major thing, I look into the person, if I can catch the eyes," Bertucci said.
It all started when Bertucci says he wanted to decorate a bare Christmas tree with the coffee lids. One of the regulars had another idea. After the holidays, he created a board that now makes customers slow down and learn more about the artist behind it.
Bertucci lives a simple life. He sleeps in a camper in Costa Mesa, then catches the bus each day to play chess in Laguna Beach. A few years ago, he was diagnosed with terminal oral cancer. He gets emotional talking about how Hoag Hospital helped him.
The coffee shop patrons describe him as a positive person. Bertucci himself says his motto is to be happy. His dream is to spend his final years back home in Italy. His friends hope to start a collection to help him to thank him for touching their lives.
"Bert is genuine. He's a guy who smells the flowers and we should all have a little of Bert in us," Foster said.