Caffenol as paper developer

Published by dirk on

Caffenol-C in all variants makes a wonderful developer for negative film and if used carefully, it can be used for nearly any film speed and a lot of different films. So far I have found one (1) film, that fails in Caffenol: Rollei Retro 400. But this might have been just my fault, so I have just bought a few rolls of this film to make further experiments.

There are not so many examples about using caffenol as a per developer, so I had to try it. Mainly because I had no print developer to hand when my darkroom was built. And as I had no film to develop and I was sorting my negatives, I thought I give it a try.

I was not even expecting an image, as it was the very first run with the enlarger. I did no test stripe, I guessed the exposure time and I was using a long expired paper. I was really surprised that something appeared on the paper shortly after I dropped the paper into the developer. As recipe I used my standard delta recipe which I mixed up directly in the tray just because I had nothing else available at this time.

So here is the resulting picture for your pleasure:

Another one from a color negative, taken in croatia. Paper is a no name grade 5 paper:

On paper you really can see the brownish tone from the coffe, which I find really pleasing.

I will definitely try some more caffenol on paper to adjust the ingredients. What I have noticed is that the developer doesn’t last so long, so you have to be quick in enlarging.

If you have already more experience with using caffenol as a paper developer, feel free to share your results.


Dirk Essl is the founder of And has done a tremendous amount of coffee development in the past.


David · January 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Nice for a first guess!

Dennis Sulz · July 8, 2011 at 4:08 am

I used Caffenol on warm tone paper and got quite an effect. Strange but a nice brown tone

    Norman · January 18, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I pretty much 4 times the regular ammount of vitamin c as the classic delta recipe, and have good results on illford fiber paper, but for matte or glossy paper one typically needs to give time for the paper it’s self to tone in the solution.

Tom Overton · February 19, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Wonderful work. I’ve been using Caffenol as a paper developer for several years. It gives some very compelling prints with the right negative.
Check out my article on the process here:

    Jorge David Ramos · April 6, 2020 at 1:05 am

    Congratulations Tom.

Caffenol for paper prints · May 24, 2011 at 5:29 pm

[…] here on and I know that some of you are really looking forward to see more pictures of prints developed in Caffenol. I have received very nice results from József, a Hungarian mechanical engineer, coffee addict […]

Caffenol Photography « thinking sideways · June 3, 2011 at 1:10 pm

[…] Essl’s site, which I stumbled across while researching information on the possibility of developing paper with caffenol. His site has great recipes and lots of sample supported information, and even a film development […]

Caffenol als Papierentwickler? - Analogical Duological · March 11, 2018 at 8:22 am

[…] Caffenol as paper developer Caffenol for paper […]

Leave a Reply