How to Develop Film at Home With Caffeinated Coffee

Are you still shooting film? Are you as impatient as I am and wish you could view your film as soon as you get home? If so, then this video is a must-watch. 

I first stumbled upon this idea in a coffee shop a few weeks back. The cafe's walls doubled as gallery space, and on them hung dreamy black and white images of everyday objects caught in gorgeous light and serendipitous moments. But, the photographs weren't what amazed me — it was the process. On the artist statement, the photographer said all of the prints were developed at home using coffee. The images were shot with high ISO film, but I noticed they had a uniquely brownish tint and noisy look to them from the coffee that only added to their beauty. 

In this do-it-yourself video, learn how to develop your own film with caffeinated coffee. Much of the process is the same as developing film regularly, except you'll use instant caffeinated coffee rather than film developer. Molecules called phenols are used in store-bought developers, as the video notes. But, they also occur in nature. Phenols found in coffee act as the phenols in film developers do. Orange juice, tea, washing soda, and wine are also great natural sources of phenols, and would make for interesting experimentation in developing your film. This mainly works only with black and white film, so err on the side of caution if you have a roll of color film you're looking to develop.

So before you brew and sip your morning cup of joe, try developing your film with it instead. 

Lead photo by Athena Lam on Unsplash.

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Very cool video Tim! We just shut down our darkroom, but this sounds like fun and I'm looking forward to trying it out soon!

Tim Behuniak's picture

Would love to see the results!

user-156818's picture

I am definitely going to try this! Thanks for sharing.

Tim Behuniak's picture

Glad to hear it! No problem!

This developer is known as Caffenol and was created at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1995.