Develop film with Coffee and Vitamin C

I have been talking about doing this experiment for a long time, but have never gotten to it until this weekend. It is possible to process your own film using coffee. Hard to believe, I know, but it works. The other ingredient besides vitamin C and coffee is washing soda. It was a little hard to track down, but you might look in the laundry section of your local grocery store. Here is a YouTube video showing how it is done:

For my test I used color slide film and it worked just fine. The pictures were taken with my trusty medium format Lego camera. I wasn’t sure what I would get, but the results were black and white negatives (as opposed to color positives). Interesting. Here is a photo from the roll:

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12 Responses to “Develop film with Coffee and Vitamin C”

  1. Christopher Ferguson Says:

    I think you get black and white because there’s no bleach in the processing. That’s a pretty wicked x-pro. I’m going to try this! Have you ever processed color film in B&W chemistry?

  2. Diane Peterson Says:

    Excellent..can’t wait to try this..maybe you could add a lit of materials so they could be written down..the video goes pretty quickly..Love it! Diane

  3. Mike Kleinberg Says:

    It’s been over 20 years since I thought about photo chemistry, but as remember it, color films are basically B&W films with color forming chemicals added. Reversal and negative color films have different processes. I think reversal film is bleached to remove the silver image, but negative color film still includes the silver image.

    The “coffee” developer, is basically an ascorbic acid (vitamin C) developer. I think it’s a low energy fine grained developer.

    If anyone has worked with photo chemistry more recently, please correct any mis-information.

  4. Jose Says:

    great idea! this will save me from bothering friends when I can’t wait. the only variables would be the fixer here, depending on yer chemistry for the film? (c-41, etc), or would b&w fixer be just fine?

  5. nina Says:

    i love processing film in the dark! its a very classic experience! great work!

  6. Oleg Says:

    Amazing! I’ll try this developing system on this weekend! Thanx!

  7. Dante Says:

    I really like the sepia tone of the images, is that down to the use of the coffee? I’ll be giving this process a shot next week when I get hold of some fix!

  8. Richard Says:

    ASTONISHING! This is only for B/W I presume…

  9. Richard Says:

    I tried my first roll of film last night; it was fuji superia xtra 800 iso color 35mm. I knew I wouldn’t get color, but I was hoping for a little better b/w than what I got. Although I can clearly see the distinct frames, and some of them appear clear although all of them appear under developed or over exposed. I will be getting my Epson V500 scanner soon and will report back then. I am anxious to try it again with B/W film. Will I get better results with B/W?

  10. David Says:

    @Chris & Mike: The negatives are black-and-white because caffenol is not a color developer like C-41. If bleach was added to the processing, there would be no image at all. In color development, the developed (and undeveloped) silver is always removed.

  11. sepp Says:

    A stupid question (don’t remember the things anymore since I developed my lasty roll 20 years ago) – i shot a bw iso400 film as 800, what should i multiply to push it the best? :)

  12. Jen Pruett Says:

    This is great I try this with my friend and it works, so cool thanks for the tips, Jen

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