Coffee based film development is a relatively new and interesting idea. It started with with a class of photographic chemistry students in 1995 who were asked to identify household agents that could be used to develop film. The class identified coffee as a good base and the idea of developing film in coffee grew from there.
I have been watching for sometime the people who are playing around with caffenol and trying to perfect the technique. For a long time results seemed interesting to me but mixed. Then they got better the problems of fogging seem to be gone and people were getting results that rivalled commercial developers. My interest was peaked and I decided it was time for me to give it a whirl. There is a lot of information on the internet but I found it hard to find information that was up to date and complete enough for me to give it a go. So I went to see a photographer friend who has been right in amongst it perfecting his caffenol recipes. Dom was able to sit me down and take me through exactly what I needed and how to go about it, his advise has been exceptionally valuable.
The basic recipe for caffenol is pretty simple, all you need is some cheap coffee, vitamin C, washing soda, and potassium bromide. The reality is of course that you can’t just use any vitamin C or washing soda and different coffee gives different results. The best place I have found for this sort of information apart from my friend Dom is on this caffenol blog, they have recipes and a wealth of information about different films and developing techniques. If you’re at all interested in giving this a go I suggest you start there.
I am exceptionally happy with my first go at developing in caffenol. When I first started I thought it would be neat, just something fun to do and play around with, but now I can see that caffenol has so much more potential than that. I fully believe the claims that caffenol can be as good as any commercial developer. I can see I have a little bit of adjusting to my recipe yet but I don’t think it will take much and if you’re into home developing of black and white film it’s fun, cheap and a great conversation piece.