Film development with Coffee and Vitamin C


Develop film with coffee and vitamin C - it really works!

When I had just re-kindled my love for analog photography, I sat one evening with a friend and a beer, when he asked me if I had already tried out developing film with coffee. With coffee? Huh? The next day he sent me a link to:


I was definitely curious.
I hadn’t even bothered with the idea of film development until then nor found it all that necessary, but coffee sounds so experimental and exciting that I became curious.
In my next Internet order I added a film developing tank to the cart (A cheap plastic tank that holds either two lengths of 35mm film or one of 120 film). Then I checked off the other necessities on my shopping list:

- washing soda (even if you’ve never noticed it before: It’s available at corner drugstores, e.g. Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda)
- Instant coffee with caffeine (e.g. "go gold instant coffee)
- liquid dishwasher detergent (I use the rinse aid brand “Think With”)
- a can of vitamin C powder (Pharmacy)
- fixer (unfortunately), but that is the only chemical (it’s available in larger photo shops or on the net)

I don’t know the costs for B&W developers, but I suspect that it’s is not all that much more expensive than the stuff for this alternate process, but this is all about trying coffee.

For a 35mm film It takes about 0.375 liter of the mixture. For two this doubles (surprise) and for a 120 film 0.590 liter. But this should also appear on the bottom of the developing tank.

Here is the recipe for 0.375 liter, will be necessary to be converted for other amounts.

- 0.375 liter of water
- 5 tsp coffee crystals
- 3.5 teaspoon washing soda
- half a teaspoon of vitamin C

It has quite a smell!

Vitamin C shortens the development time and ensures that the negatives are not discolored by the coffee.

Furthermore, 0.375 liter of fixer is mixed as well as 0.375 liter of water with a drop of rinsing agent.

If the three solutions are prepared and a timer is at hand (found on most phones) you can start! Starting in the dark room, store room or whatever, load the film into the tank, cover it, and again back into the light..
Then pour the foul smelling coffee developer, set the timer for 12 minutes and during the first Minute continuously agitate the developing tank slowly.
After the first minute, once every 20 seconds.

After the 12 minutes are up, the developer solution is poured out and the tank rinsed with water. Fill with water, agitate 6 times, then dump. Repeat 2 times.

Then the fixer is poured in and the timer set for 5 minutes. In these 5 minutes, the tank is again to be agitated every 20 seconds. Then pour the fixer out.

Fill with clean water. Agitate the tank 3 times, then pour out.
New clean water, agitate 6 times and pour out. New water, agitate 12 times, pour out.

Then fill the tank with water containing the drops of rinsing agent. Agitate 24 times then pour it out. The film is now finished. The tank can now be opened completely and the film hung to dry with a clothes pin. It is recommended the hanging end of the film be weight down, so as to be kept as straight as possible. Wipe off excess water with a single pass of your fingers.

Once the film is dry, it can be scanned.

The initial results have really surprised me: other than the waviness being more difficult to tame in the Film scanner, I couldn’t see any difference!

The first results with Fuji Neopan ISO 400 and ISO 1600:

Later, I foolishly tried to reuse the developing solution on the following day. Finishing the development process, I realized that in this case I’ve messed up the film and can only see the strongly overexposed photos. It was Fuji Neopan 1600. The fixer poured out pink, usually it remains clear:

Since then, I’ve always used fresh solutions.

And to finish with, medium format Film developed with Caffenol:

As you can see I am very quickly becoming familiar with the technology. The most difficult part is obtaining the fixing solution because I have to take a 20 minute detour to the photo shop, everything else can be found in normal shopping. The biggest purchase was the developing tank.
I enjoy being able to admire my B&W photos directly after shooting rather than always having to wait 2 working days!

Anybody who does not want to buy the Fixing solution should look at the Tipster by somapic which tries a similar approach to the development (but without vitamin C):
somapic´s Tipster (in German)

written by shoujoai on 2011-06-07 in #gear #tipster #iso-1600 #bw #development #ilford-delta #instant-coffee #vitamin-c #chemicals #develop #black-white #iso-400 #coffee #caffeine #sprockets #35mm #diana #soda #diana-mini #film-processing #fuji-neopan #washing-soda #fixer #top-tipster-techniques
translated by duckduckninja


  1. hollyolly-tea
    hollyolly-tea ·

    ah looks so easy with good results woooo may give it a try

  2. dminilover
    dminilover ·

    Seems a little complicated but I may give this a shot. Great article!

  3. hail90
    hail90 ·

    I'm becoming more and more interested in developing my own film! Reading this has only pushed me further!! Maybe this will be the place to start.

  4. jackpumpkinhead
    jackpumpkinhead ·

    This is a great article, cheers shoujoai!!

    @hail90 I totally agree! Although I'm a massive coward, so we'll see :-)

  5. deedeet
    deedeet ·

    nice info :)

  6. stouf
    stouf ·


  7. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    clear explaination of the process, thank you.

  8. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    Nice, I have heard so much about caffenol- might give it a try soon (I'm using Fotoimpex' APH09 developer at the moment)- and I do have to underline: once you've bought the tank and spool and the changing back, DIY-processing is way cheaper than sending your films to a lab (even when you don't use caffenol) and much more fun because you get much more artistic control over what you eventually get!

More Interesting Articles

  • 12 Months, 12 Projects: March Of Caffenol

    written by Maaike van Stratum on 2015-04-12 in #world #lifestyle
    12 Months, 12 Projects: March Of Caffenol

    My list of resolutions for 2015 consists of 12 projects, one for every month. March was for caffenol. You have probably heard of the amazing fact that you can develop black and white photos with coffee, sodium, and vitamin C. I had tried this before but with less than stellar results. Somehow, there's always something going wrong. Time to devote a few rolls to caffenol to finally get the hang of it.

  • Falling In Love With The LC-A 120

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-04-06 in #gear #reviews
    Falling In Love With The LC-A 120

    There are quite a few perks that come with working for a film photography company, and the best perk of all is testing out the latest cameras. I can remember buying my LC-A back in 2009 and being really inspired to shoot film again. When the LC-A 120 came along, I couldn't wait to try it out around London. Join me as I test out this super medium format beauty.

  • Pushing Boundaries: So I Heard You Like Multiple Exposures

    written by Amber Valentine on 2015-04-11 in #world #tipster
    Pushing Boundaries: So I Heard You Like Multiple Exposures

    My name is Amber Valentine and I have a confession to make: I’m not really a photographer. I have a website full of photographs, a bookshelf full of cameras, film waiting to be developed, and a wall full of framed pictures I’ve taken. Even so, I don’t really consider myself a photographer per se. I think that Lomography is more about the experimentation and the fun of film than it is about the photography, and that experimentation is part of the reason I have embraced Lomography so.

  • Shop News

    Get a Perfect Instant Selfie with Fuji Instax Mini 70!

    Get a Perfect Instant Selfie with Fuji Instax Mini 70!

    Get the perfect self-portraits or group photos with your friends with this instant camera! This camera allows you to be picture ready with its mirror next to the lens and gives you an idea where is best to smile!

  • Petzval Artist: The Aesthetics Of Photographer Issa Ng

    written by lomographygallerystorehk on 2015-07-02 in #people #lifestyle #reviews
    Petzval Artist: The Aesthetics Of Photographer Issa Ng

    As a photographer, Issa Ng is known for his expertise in portraiture and fashion photography. Having worked with different international brands as an Art Director, he has developed a great sense for aesthetics and details, which are reflected in his work. For the past three years thePetzval lens has been part of his workflow, and it has helped him create those show-stopping fashion portraits.

  • So here’s what we’ve been working on: an all new

    written by recurving on 2015-02-03 in #world #news
    So here’s what we’ve been working on: an all new

    For the last year we've been working on the next version of Lomography. We based our work on the feedback you’ve given us over the years and we wanted to share it as early as possible with you and can’t wait to hear what you think. Just one warning first: it is still in development and things can break. All the photos, comments, likes, homes and everything else were transferred as of October 16th, 2014. So anything you do on won't be reflected on and vice versa. Once we are done with testing, everything you did here will be deleted again. So this is a big playground for you to explore.

  • Shooting the Petzval Lens with Ian Taylor

    written by givesmehell on 2015-04-29 in #people #lomoamigos
    Shooting the Petzval Lens with Ian Taylor

    Canadian-born Ian Taylor is a full-time photographer specializing in kids and development work. It all started when his five siblings started having children at the same time he was into photography. This passion then spiraled into something amazing, and now Ian works primarily with kids, shooting them when they are in their purest form. Based in Asia, Ian has agreed to share this amazing series of photos he shot with his Petzval Art Lens in Cambodia and Thailand. He also shared with us some of his insights and views on photography.

  • Shop News

    Shoot recognizable images with the Petzval

    Shoot recognizable images with the Petzval

    You want your subject be the center of attention? Petzval lens photos are recognizable for sharpness and crispness in the centre, strong color saturation, wonderful swirly bokeh effect, artful vignettes and narrow depth of field that will make your subjects stand out!

  • Tipster: Tinting and Staining Cyanotypes

    written by Maaike van Stratum on 2015-09-26 in #gear #tipster
    Tipster: Tinting and Staining Cyanotypes

    Cyanotypes are a fun and easy way to make prints on paper and textile. But perhaps the bright blue color of a cyanotype isn't really your thing? No problemo! With everyday things like coffee and tea you can turn your cyanotypes from bright blue to warm brown.

  • Petzval Interview Series: Dr. Anton Holzer on the Legacy of the Petzval Lens

    written by pripri2000 on 2015-06-05 in #people #news
    Petzval Interview Series: Dr. Anton Holzer on the Legacy of the Petzval Lens

    In our last interview with Dr. Anton Holzer, he elaborates on the development of early photography, Joseph Petzval's later work, and on the lasting legacy of the Petzval lens.

  • Share Your Lomo'Instant Timelapse Video Rumble

    written by icequeenubia on 2014-12-11 in #competitions #videos
    Share Your Lomo'Instant Timelapse Video Rumble

    Step up your Lomo'Instant game by creating a timelapse video of your snapshot as it develops. Share the magic with your friends and score some piggies from us!

  • Shop News

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    At 25% off you can take dreamy 35mm images with this little black beauty. Beam coloured light into your shots with its accompanying Diana Flash Back accessory and be the analogue king of the night.

  • Sebastião Salgado Follows the Scent of a Dream

    written by Kwyn Kenaz Aquino on 2015-05-07 in #world #news #videos
    Sebastião Salgado Follows the Scent of a Dream

    Sebastião Salgado's new book covers a ten-year trail to the sustainable coffee regions of the world. The photographs show farmers and growers working harmoniously on a backdrop of lush forests.

  • The Rescued Film Project

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-02-10 in #world #lifestyle
    The Rescued Film Project

    The Rescued Film Project collects, develops and archives undeveloped or unwanted film from all over the world. Recently, the group acquired 31 rolls at an auction in Ohio, which, as it turns out, were from World War 1 and featured some amazing photographic footage of that time. Founder and film technician Levi Bettwieser talks about this exciting project.

  • Bite-Size Fiction: The Memory Pill

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-02-15 in #world #lifestyle
    Bite-Size Fiction: The Memory Pill

    Someday, getting rid of unwanted memories will be as easy as popping a pill and waiting a few hours for the desired effect to kick in. Literally a bitter pill to swallow (you'd think that with all the advancements in science then, they would've already made, say, fruit-flavored ones like the vitamins you loved as a kid), sure, but effective nonetheless.