Coffee is disgusting. The smell, the taste, the stains it leaves in unsealed tile when field-grade officers spill it all over the floor without even attempting to clean up after themselves (that’s what they make privates for). All of it is just vile. Until last night, I was fairly convinced that if I happened to take over the world one of my first acts as Supreme World Commander would be the banning of any more coffee production. Then I used it to develop film.
Now, I won’t claim this was an original idea. I’m not even sure, in this age of information, that original ideas even exist anymore. A handy website, Caffenol.org, provided some nice examples and a few recipes. The necessary ingredients? Instant coffee, washing soda, vitamin c, and water. Water comes out of the faucet, you can get washing soda (not to be confused with baking soda) at ACE Hardware, and I needed groceries anyway so HEB solved the rest of my ingredient needs.
The recipe I used called for 6tsp of instant coffee, 4tsp of washing soda, and .25tsp of vitamin c all dissolved in 350mL of water. It was recommended that the coffee and washing soda be mixed in separate solutions to later be combined for a total volume of 350mL. The soda was dissolved in 200mL of water, and the coffee in 150mL. Swishing the water and coffee around to dissolve it all caused quite a lot of foam. Bubbles and even development are not friends with each other, so I had to let it sit for a long while before I decided to pour the terrible smelling developer into my film tank.
My test roll was one of the 20 rolls of Agfa APX 400 I was given a few weeks ago. I did not really bother metering anything, and just guessed at the exposures using my Kodak Retina IIa. When I shoot test rolls, I like to try and cram a wide range of contrast levels, lighting, and textures into a single roll and then see how my normal development process works for the general case. That’s exactly what I did with this roll, and the results were surprisingly good. The only issue, other than the horrid smell, is a fair amount of base fog but the film is old and expired and my scanner really doesn’t seem to care if the base is fogged or not. Apparently adding a few grams per liter of iodized table salt to the solution helps to control fogging, so I will give that a shot on the next roll. Actually, I’ll probably develop a roll of the APX 400 in my regular chemistry just to see how much of the fogging is really caffenol’s fault.