Tipster of the Week: Your Kitchen Is My Darkroom


Coffee + soda + vitamin C and some analogue passion are all the thing you need to make a photograph, you don’t believe me? Let me show you…

The New Coffee Developer Receipt by dogma

I think we all remember Matt’s coffee developer tipster, it made us aware of the potential of household stuff in film developing. Who would think that coffee and soda can do such thing? That combination really works, but it has one weakness – low contrast negatives and tell you what, there is a way to fix it, just add a pair of vitamin c tablets. Coffee + soda + vitamin C and your film gone look perfect! You don’t believe me?

Vitamin C – Lemons, limes, oranges and other Citrus fruits immediately come to mind as good sources of vitamin C. Unfortunately though, that vitamin doesn’t have enough concentration needed for this experiment. I have tried to develop film with fresh lemon juice and the film came blank. You’ll need head on over to your medicine cabinet and have yourself a couple of vitamin C tablets.

So what you will need? here’s the list.


  • Instant coffee (not decaf)
  • Vitamin C
  • Washing soda
  • Room-temperature distilled water
  • Fixer
  • A tiny wee drop of dish washing liquid


  • A daylight developing tank & reel
  • A roll of exposed film
  • A bottle opener
  • Scissors
  • Measuring beakers
  • Spoons
  • 2 glasses
  • A timer
  • 2 clothespins
  • Clothesline or coat hanger


  • 350ml water
  • 5 teaspoons instant coffee crystals
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons washing soda
  • 1g vitamin C (2 tablets)


Set up the dark room and load the film on the reel. You can find more info about this here

Crush the vitamin C tablet, combined it with the coffee and mix them together in a glass with 125ml of water. Stir until all the crystals and gritty bits are completely dissolved.

Mix the washing soda in a separate glass with 125ml of water and stir until dissolved. Mix the two solutions together in a container that is large enough to hold all of the liquid.

Take your tank with the film and pour developer in it.
Hit start on the timer and agitate slowly and constantly for the first minute. (agitate – turn the tank upside down and then right side up again once.)

After the first minute, agitate the tank 3 times once a minute.When the timer goes off, drain the developer and fill the tank with water. Agitate 6 times, then drain the water from the tank.

Repeat this step 2 more times.

Again, drain the water or stop bath and fill the tank with fixer. Set the timer for five minutes and agitate 3 times each minute. Now about fixer, if you want to make the process more interesting you can use salted water instead, it will do just fine. The only thing is that it takes much more time and water because of the high concentration level of salt; 1L water + 500g salt.

Pour out the fixer and fill the tank with water. Agitate 3 times and drain the water. Refill it again with fresh water, agitate 6 times and pour out. Refill, agitate 12 times and pour out.

The final step – In a separate container, dissolve a small drop of dish washing liquid with enough water to fill the developing tank and put in in the tank, agitate slowly 24 times then drain.

Open the tank and remove the reel with your film. Use a clothespin to hang the roll of film and let it dry and then finally you can scan the images!

I have only one more, but very important tip to add: if you plan to develop films in coffee overexpose it by one or two steps to get better contrast because you can not push process with coffee, so you have to do it manually by overexposing it in your camera. I have used Kodak Tri-X 400 ISO film and shot them 200 ASA settings.

written by dogma on 2009-06-28 #gear #tutorials #coffee #black-and-white #developing #tips #smena-8m #tipster #coffenol #kodak-trix-400 #ascorbic-acid #yashica-35gsn


  1. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    That's a fantastic tipster!!! Thanks a lot Dogma for this receipt!! :)))

  2. mattcharnock
    mattcharnock ·

    thats a great idea! it is possible to develop the film in just vitamin c as well but i think you need about 1000 grms! good work

  3. stouf
    stouf ·

    YEAH ! This is absolutely awesome ! I was wondering about it... And now you give us the whole receipt !!! Thank you so much ! A truly great tipster !!!

  4. majorted
    majorted ·

    whaaaaaaaat???? Ive got to try this!!

  5. rater
    rater ·

    Great tip! It has been some time I want to try that...

  6. itakesmartpills
    itakesmartpills ·

    this is wicked.

  7. eyecon
    eyecon ·

    Great results!

  8. dogma
    dogma ·

    Thanks guys! CaffenolC really knoks off! I'm in love with it and promised my self to forget chemicals and use only this receipt :D

  9. lomosexual_manboy
    lomosexual_manboy ·

    Super awesome results. How many minutes did you develop for?

  10. dogma
    dogma ·

    uuuu i missed that info it was 12 minutes!

  11. something_went_wrong
    something_went_wrong ·

    Splendid results! Hard to believe they were made in cafenol...

  12. treehorn46
    treehorn46 ·

    now the homemade fixer

  13. ripsta
    ripsta ·

    nice tips and nice pics
    love all the mx

  14. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Thanx for the recipe. If I get access to a darkroom, I'm going to try this!!

  15. lfuentesp
    lfuentesp ·


  16. poetpunk
    poetpunk ·

    I just tried it and failed horribly :( I tried to develop 120. guess I should have added more than I did to the formula. Where should I get rid of the stuff? I feel like I wasted film and material... gotta learn somehow. Thanks for the tip;)

  17. buster_adams
    buster_adams ·

    I like it better that way the BW has very big contrast!!!

  18. phia237
    phia237 ·

    Is it possible to use powdered citric acid rather than Vit C?

  19. phia237
    phia237 ·

    It is possible to use citric acid, but as I've not tried with Ascorbic acid I can't do a comparison. My negs came out blank when I processed for 12 mins and very underdeveloped when I did 20 mins. I used water straight from the tap though, didn't warm it first which I think was the problem.
    I'm going to experiment now with doubling the exposure time and warming the water up a bit!
    I'll let you know x

  20. bunnygirl156
    bunnygirl156 ·

    ive only just got around to trying this and ive never done any processing before. when i pulled out the finished product i could see the pictures on the negative but they werent see through. i thought i did everything right? please help..........oh and i did use colour film not black and white. but i didnt think this would make a difference? eeeeeek

  21. hrreport
    hrreport ·

    Does anyone know if this works for devoloping paper to?

  22. kampongkid
    kampongkid ·

    I hope there'll be more details for the receipt like how many tablets/mg is needed for the vitamin C, and also what kind of coffee is best recommended - crystal or powder form, anyone have got any ideas?

  23. jack9924
    jack9924 ·

    how do you use the salt water as a fixer? eg times?

  24. lfvpgomes
    lfvpgomes ·

    does it work with color images???

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