Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The power of coffee

I just finished scanning negatives developed in “coffee”...certainly not the one I am drinking at the moment ;)
Caffenol is a home made film developer based on instant coffee (NOT decaf). Very new and exciting experiment even if such a way of developing is well known since while. I bought all ingredients after very short online research. I've had a some trouble finding washing soda but got it on ebay at last. Here i need to point very halpful websites: Caffenol blog and Maciek Lesniak Fotografia (in polish). Good set of information!

instant coffee, pure vitamin C powder, washing soda
Caffenol, once mixed is supposed to be used within half an hour. Storage is not recommended.  Well I didn't test it so far but I have to trust the experience of others.
I am using Paterson dev tank which holds 0.5 l of dilution for one 120 film so my proportions (for 0.5L dev) are as follows:

- 27g of washing soda
- 8g of vitamin C
- 20g of instant coffee

This gives me Caffenol-C-M - for medium fast film. Tested here on Ilford Pan F Plus 50 and Ilford FP4+ 125.
Recommended dev - 15min, 20°C.
Proportions are adjustable depending obviously on quantity needed.

ready developer, Caffenol-C-M
It rather smells bad (maybe because of instant coffee which is obviously a fake one ;D haha) and makes quite a mess when spilled. Dilution however is very easy to prepare, extremely cheap, very efficient and gives just wonderful results. Beside that it’s quite flexible. Usually I have to be careful with average developer. Sometimes 2° or 3°C makes a huge difference, even in tolerant black and white negatives. The same with proportions. During my tests I developed two different films in developer mixed in the same way, with the same time and almost the same temperature. I am a bit impatient so I decided to go with a few degrees warmer dilution (warmer water makes everything easier to mix) and 1 min shorter dev time then recommended (Pan F Plus 50 - 14min, 22°C, FP4+ 14min 23°C). Stop bath and fixing is exactly the same as with ordinary developer.
I must admit I am more then happy with the results.
Looks like I am gonna remove all other developers from my monthly (photo) shopping list.
So now just a few random photographs as a proof of my words:

Yashica Mat-124G with Yashinon 80mm 3.5,
Ilford Pan F Plus 50 in Caffenol-C-M 14min, 22°C

Yashica Mat-124G with Yashinon 80mm 3.5,
Ilford Pan F Plus 50 in Caffenol-C-M 14min, 22°C

Hasselblad 500C/M with Planar 80mm T* CF 2.8,
Ilford FP4+ in Caffenol-C-M 14min, 23°C


  1. wow artur,thats a new coffee flavour!!

  2. Wow Artur that's amazing! I was considering going down the route of developing my own film and was looking into costs and availability of material, but this has opened up new possibilities now. And no messy chemicals to store and dispose of, much safer and cleaner, and as you said cheaper! Must check out those links. Cheers!

    Lovely results as well, quite amazing what you can produce with homemade setup, impressive.

    1. Thanks Graham. It is great indeed. If you need a recipe for a faster films then have a look at my post called: 'Espresso...(tests with Caffenol-C-L for fast films) '
      Will link it up on Darkroom FB page anyway ...maybe tomorrow ;)