Adventures in Caffenol (Part 1):

by Blake Griffin


This is the same post I made earlier, I just wanted to make it less “wall of text” for you all. Sorry for messing up your feeds earlier. - B

Caffenol: A home made DIY film developer system consisting of Instant Coffee, Vitamin C, and Washing Soda. 

Caffenol developing is a “newer” development technique that I came across a year or so ago. When I first saw the process involved I just shrugged it off as a neat idea, because at the time I was moving ahead with my digital workflow. It wasn’t until I came across a few rolls of exposed film that I had tucked away and forgotten about from a wedding a few years back, that I decided I wanted to take a stab at developing my own film again.

I haven’t done any extensive darkroom work since I was a freshman in college, so I am a little worried about the results. However since I already delivered the digital prints a long time ago, what do I have to lose by running these myself and seeing what may come out. 

There are many guides available for this process, and I am no expert. However if you want to learn more please check out the following blogs here and here. According to my research Caffenol can actually be used to process both Black and White “professional” films as well as standard C-41 process color films, although from what I can see it would appear that this process bleaches any color out of said films…turning them black and white. 

What you need:

(Note: Photo does not contain all of what is listed below)

1 Developing Tank: I am scouring craigslist now for mine

1 (or 2 depending on the size of your tank) Developing reel for 35mm or larger film stocks.

Some way to open your film canisters: I use an old cheap metal bottle opener, with a magnet attached so I can find it in the dark.

Vitamin C Powder (I have also heard I need Vitamin C crystals…but I’m not sure if these are the same thing or not)

Instant Coffee (I have been told the cheaper the better, also on some blogs it mentions to find coffee marked “strong”)

Washing Soda (also called Washing Ash…I found mine at Publix for pretty cheap)

Distilled Water (For soaking, washing, and mixing the above together)

Standard photo fixer (this is the only thing that you will need to purchase from a photo store…I haven’t found a way to fix using home materials yet)

And of course some way to measure all of this liquid.

Process: 

Processing the film is very similar to other darkroom development processes. If you aren’t sure how to do that, google it. Youtube also has many videos on the subject. I will be following one of two recipes, that honestly both are about the same, from the links above. 

The rolls of film that I have available are: 

3 rolls of Kodak - TMax 400

1 Roll of Ilford Delta 100 (not exposed)

1 Roll of Fuji 1600 (not exposed)

1 Roll of Kodak Gold 200 C-41 (not exposed)

Various rolls of Kodak C-41 in both 200 and 400 iso flavors (not exposed)

All of the film that is not exposed is probably not a great indicator of this process, its all super expired by at least 10 years…so I am not expecting much out of it.

SInce I only have the T-Max exposed I will be working with that first. Using the development chart from Caffenol.org I will be cooking up this concoction using their “Delta Recipe” doubling the Vitamin C as recommended. See below for recipe including the doubled vitamin C.

Delta Recipe for 1000ml stock (Delta-STD)

Mix Coffee and Soda separate, as it makes it easier to see if the Soda is completely dispersed.

  • 1000ml (1l) Water
  • 45g Instant coffee
  • 24g Washing soda
  • 40g Vitamin C

Let solution stand for about 5 minutes to clear micro-bubbles.
Develop for 9:00 – 11:00 minutes at 20 degrees, fix and rinse as usual.

Results:

WE HAVE IMAGES!

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