In film photography, the choice of film developer can have a significant impact on the final image. There are many different developers available, each with its own unique properties and characteristics. However, one alternative developer that has gained popularity in recent years is Caffenol.

Caffenol is a film developer made from coffee, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and washing soda (sodium carbonate). The recipe for Caffenol was first developed by Dr. Scott Williams in the early 1990s as a fun experiment to see if coffee could be used to develop film. Since then, the recipe has been refined and has gained a following among photographers looking for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional film developers.

The main advantage of Caffenol is that it can be made from readily available household ingredients. This is a significant departure from traditional film developers, which often include toxic chemicals that can be harmful to both the environment and the photographer. Additionally, the ingredients in Caffenol are relatively inexpensive, making it an affordable option for photographers on a budget.

To make Caffenol, one simply needs to combine instant coffee, vitamin C, and washing soda in the correct proportions and mix with warm water. The resulting developer can be used to process black and white film just like any other developer. The exact recipe can vary depending on personal preference, but a common recipe is as follows:

  • 54 grams of washing soda
  • 16 grams of vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • 40 grams of instant coffee (or equivalent)

These ingredients are then combined with one liter of warm water and stirred until fully dissolved. The resulting developer can be used for developing film right away, or it can be stored in a sealed container for future use.

As with any film developer, the characteristics of Caffenol can vary depending on many factors, such as the type of film, the temperature of the developer, and the length of development time. However, many photographers have reported that Caffenol produces images with a unique tonality and grain structure that is different from traditional developers. Additionally, Caffenol has the added benefit of producing a distinctive brown stain on the film, which can add a vintage feel to the final image.

Finally, and this should go without saying, but please bear in mind that actual Caffenol cannot be consumed! Our mugs are not actually encouraging you to drink film developer, just regular old coffee.