Receipe for Processing Film with Coffee, aka Caffenol

I made a post a couple months ago talking about how you can develop film using a mixture of coffee and vitamin C. Coffee Developer has been called “caffenol” and “folgernol” and there are various recipes online for making homemade developer with household products. In my last post there was a great video tutorial, but I wanted to follow up on the experimental developing process with a more detailed list. Here are the instructions which are pretty much taken right off the YouTube video:

You will need: 1. An exposed roll of film (one that you won’t be devastated about losing if it doesn’t turn out) 2. 5 teaspoons of instant coffee (caffeinated) 3. One quarter teaspoon of vitamin C (you can crush tablets of vitamin C) 4. 3 teaspoons of washing soda (you might have to search your local grocery stores for this or buy it online) 5. Water 6. Fixer (I used print fixer since I don’t have film fixer) 7. Processing tank, 3 glasses, a spoon, and a couple measuring cups 8. Thermometer (I didn’t use one, but if you want to be precise you need one) 9. A stopwatch 10. Bottle opener (if you need help opening a 35mm film canister) 12. Scissors

Step 1: Load Film in Processing Tank In a dark room, take the film out of the canister and load it onto your spool and stick it in the processing tank. Close the lid and set aside.

Step 2: Prepare the Caffenol Developer Mix 6 teaspoons of coffee crystals with 125ml of water. Mix 3 teaspoons of washing soda with with 125ml of water. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of crushed vitamin C powder with 100ml of water. Combine the coffee water, washing soda water, and vitamin C water together. The measurements above aren’t critical as long as you end up with 350ml of water (12 ounces). Mixing them separately helps to make sure it all gets dissolved. Honestly, it is tough to get it all perfectly dissolved. Don’t worry about it too much, because this is meant to be an imperfect process. If we wanted perfection we probably wouldn’t be doing this ourselves anyway, right?

Once you have everything mixed together, let it sit to to get rid of bubbles. (Again don’t stress too much about bubbles.)

Step 3: Developer Add the chemicals to your film processing tank. Turn the tank over repeatedly for the first minute and continue to agitage it every three minutes after that. This step is 20 minute.

Step 4: Rinse Pour out the coffee developer and add 350ml of room temperature water (68 degrees). Agitate it 5 or six times and dump it out. Add more water, agaitage. Dump it out. Do this one more time (3 times total).

Step 5: Fixer Add 350ml of fixer. Agitate it for 5 minutes. You can save the fixer and reuse it many times.

Step 6: Rinse Rinsing is the final step and the better you do at rinsing, the more archival your film will be. I rinse it with water three times with lots of agitation and then do a final rinse with distilled water with a couple drops of liquid soap. The soap helps cut down on water marks when the film dries.

Once you are finished rinsing, take the film out, hang it up, and let it dry thoroughly. With any luck you should have negatives that are ready for printing or scanning.

(Note: if you are developing 120 film, like I usually do, you can make a double batch. 350ml is not enough to cover the larger 120 film.)

I hope this tutorial on how to process film with coffee was helpful. If you have any additional tips, please add them to the comments.

6 Responses to “Receipe for Processing Film with Coffee, aka Caffenol”

  1. Jan Says:

    Hey! Great Tutorial and video! You mentioned using Color-Reversal film for this as a test. How long did you process/fix it? And do you know what would happen if I used Colornegative film for this? Thanks very much for sharing!

  2. admin Says:

    Thanks, Jan. I used color-reversal film for my test because it was the film I had on hand, but it should be the same for color negative film. Fixing times should be the same, too. If anyone has experience with this and can give advice please add a comment. Thanks!

  3. Jan Says:

    Thanks! I tried it, but forgot about the light leaking through the door, so the pictures were destroyed, but it worked. I saw the coding on the film. Thanks for posting!

  4. Emiliano Says:

    Hi, great recipe. It works on B&W films?

  5. Chris Says:

    This might be a stupid question, but this is for black a nd white film, isn’t it?

  6. Chris Says:

    very silly question, just read the rest of the comments, sorry.

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