Beating the Credit Crunch - The Coffee Developer


With today’s economic crisis we need to find new ways to beat the credit crunch and, by Jove, Hanspan and I have it! Why spend tons of cash getting your films developed when you can do it really cheaply with ingredients from your own Kitchen?

With today’s economic crisis we need to find new ways to beat the credit crunch and, by Jove, Hanspan and I have it! Why spend tons of cash getting your films developed when you can do it really cheaply with ingredients from your own Kitchen?

This method requires Instant coffee, washing soda and water. That’s it. Nothing more.

So without further ado; here’s how to.

Shoot a roll of black and white film.

Load it onto your reel into your inversion tank just as normal.


  • 4 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 2teaspoons washing crystals
  • 8oz water (22 degrees)

Mix 2 teaspoons of washing soda (also called washing crystals – but baking soda is not right – it wont work) with 8 oz of water then mix 4 teaspoons of coffee into the mix let it stand to make sure there are no bubbles.

WARNING: This mixture stinks. It is horrendous. Do not expect this to smell like gently percolating coffee. It doesn’t, it smells like the coffee you might get in hell.

Pour this hells broth into the inversion tank and agitate. Then agitate every 30 seconds for 30 minutes. We used just cold water as a stop, but you could use vinegar as well. More money saved!

Take the film out and admire the results!

Hope this helps and let us know any results that you may have.

For more info pop by for a cup of coffee, er a nice cup, with milk and sugar no washing stuff!

written by mattcharnock on 2008-12-25 #gear #tutorials #fun #coffee #black-and-white #35mm #tip #lc-a #experiment #tipster #developer #money-saving


  1. selloutboy
    selloutboy ·

    ahhh! the caffenol darkroom recipe! :D

    What did you use as a fixer?

  2. graefin
    graefin ·

    wow! Coffee pictures :D

  3. dirklancer
    dirklancer ·

    beautifully written, as usual.
    I made a crappy pot of coffee this morning...not quite hellish, but bad enough, so I added a shot of schnapps (butter ripple schnapps, to be exact).
    Merry Christmas!

  4. lomosexual_manboy
    lomosexual_manboy ·

    I've been looking into this method for a few weeks now having just scored some cheap b/w film. Great to see the full how-to with pictures. There is a cool group on flickr all about different ways of developing with home-made concoctions called homemade soup here:

    Mad props to the both of you for experimenting with this and sharing.

  5. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    thanks for sharing this unfamous family recipee :) wanted to know it long time ago but was lazy to google it :)

    well, 30 minutes developing, but for which film speed? this is an essential info.

  6. lomosexual_manboy
    lomosexual_manboy ·

    This is a very helpful youtube video which includes detailed ingredients and steps.

    I heard you can use aquarium de-chlorinator as a fixer. Not sure if is cheaper than a regular fixer.

    I second an update on film speed for reference. I believe the higher the asa the longer it takes and a more accurate time would correct fogging.

  7. hanspan
    hanspan ·

    we used water as a fixer :D

  8. hanspan
    hanspan ·

    also - why do my replies not show up in green??

  9. larslau
    larslau ·

    Great! I really love this tip so much!! You should both get an award!!

    @hanspan: probably because it is written in Matt's name.

  10. mattcharnock
    mattcharnock ·

    hey guys, with black and white you dont really need a fixer a water wash is enough - you can use vinegar as a fixer.
    I would totally reccomend trying this it was a lot of fun but seriously i cannot emphasise enough how much the coffee stinks!

  11. ananditya
    ananditya ·

    wohoo..this is the best tips ever

  12. hanspan
    hanspan ·

    how mean of LSI not to include me! haha!
    Seriously - believe us when we say this smells... it smells like bins...
    and YES ... we were dressed as SPORTICUS...

  13. theatrelover08
    theatrelover08 ·

    What would you suggest for someone who does not have an inversion tank? Also, how did you print them?

  14. hanspan
    hanspan ·

    I have no idea wht to suggest.. i think i will be investing in one! Try a local camera mart.. or ever a local developers if they have "spare" - befriend your developer !!!!
    I took the negatives and had them scanned at our local asda store at their photo processing department. :D they do it on the hour (or whle you wait if they aren't too busy! - 15mins max!)

  15. lomosexual_manboy
    lomosexual_manboy ·

    Did it!!!!!!!!!!
    All I can say is use a fixer to get rid of the fogginess...or don't and keep it looking spooky.

    I heard it is possible without a fixer for the negatives to keep exposing over time.

    Fixer will clear off all the unexposed silver halide to clean it up all nice and deep like.

  16. phia237
    phia237 ·

    Does this work with XP2?

  17. phia237
    phia237 · also found a flickr site devoted to printing images in coffee, inspired by John Cage so it must be good!

  18. kingofthebeach
    kingofthebeach ·

    probably a stupid question, but any idea on what would happen if you tried to develop Color film in this way? Thanks :)

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