The Delta Recipe Goes Standard.

Published by dirk on

We have received several comments, that teaspoon measuring is not the preferred way in mixing up your caffenol brew, as it is very inaccurate and ‘1 teaspoon’ can mean from 1 to 5 grams, depending how big your teaspoon is.

Reinhold from has developed some very good base recipes, using only litres and grams, and especially his chart at can be extremely useful, I just find it irritating that coffee is not on top of the list of ingredients 🙂

As I want people to experiment and develop their own variations of caffenol (and share them of course), I was using teaspoon measuring, as you don’t need to have a special scale to start developing in caffenol. For medium speed film you can just use any teaspoon and the Delta Recipe and you will get a picture from the film.

But I also see that many people want to try out exactly what others have discovered, and so I have measured down the ingredients of the Delta Recipe. So from now on, I will give all the recipes in grams and litres, but will in addition keep teaspoon measures to get you developing even if you don’t have a special scale. Oh, here is the teaspoon I am using since my very first tries with caffenol, and everything from the Delta Recipe so you see how much of everything it is. My teaspoon translates to 2.5g coffee, in case that helps you.

Above you see volumes needed for 350ml of caffenol:

  • 15g instant coffee
  • 8g washing soda
  • 7g Vitamin C

So for 1l that translates into:

  • 45g Instant coffee
  • 24g Washing soda
  • 20g Vitamin C

There you have it, Delta-STD, suitable for any kind of film, gives great results with low speed (ISO 100-200) colour films, and medium speed (ISO 400) B&W films with a nice grainy look:

Rollei RPX 400 in Delta-STD

The recipes will be updated soon to include standardized weights and teaspoon measuring.

Next up is a write up of scales, so you know which kind of scale you need to buy, or might already have in your household.


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


Reinhold · January 18, 2011 at 9:41 am

Thank you very much for your kind credits, Dirk. I thought I’d be one of the worst Vit-C abuser, but you beat them all 😀 No doubt!

And her caffeic highness is hiding modestly behind others in my recipes, but is ruling the game definately.

Best regards – Reinhold

Dustin · February 2, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I found the teaspoon measurements most helpful while researching caffenol recipes. The Delta recipe (in teaspoon measurements) worked great for me.

Rossen · February 5, 2011 at 11:56 am

Wow, that looks interesting. Love the results, might give it a try sometime, especially with the developer prices going up 🙂

Sara · March 14, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I am curious. I have a large bottle of pure lemon juice and I was wondering if maybe it would work to use lemon juice instead of vitamin c powder. It makes sense to me that it might, but I don’t know what my ratio would be.

Also, have you heard of using salt water as a fixer? I have made a pinhole camera, and want to be able to just say I’ve done every part of the process on my own from start to finish. I may teach a group of 6-10 year olds how to develop film too (after I have them each make a matchbox pinhole camera) in the hopes of starting a love of photography, if not film, at an early age! =) If we can avoid ANY chemicals that can be a problem for the kids, that would be best. – Thanks

    dirk · April 5, 2011 at 9:15 am


    I don’t think that lemon juice is concentrated high enough to be used as Vitamin C source, I would really recommend buying a powder based product.
    Fixing with Salt water also is not an option, I don’t know who came out with this myth.

pietjs · March 27, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I have used the Delta STD recipe on a Kodak Portra 160VC film…. results are stunning!
I have never had so many shades of grey whilst retaining dark shadows and bright highlights.

This recipe in combination with Portra film is a winner for me!

check it out at:

Thanks for you great site!


carlos · May 20, 2011 at 6:16 am

I gave it a try on a fuji 400cn 120, and it worked just as said. (caffenol is why I started developing again, after 20 years)

Rochi · May 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm

At last! Someone who unedrstdans! Thanks for posting!

Riccardo · November 16, 2011 at 7:09 am

Hi there,

I’ve tried using the Delta Standard recipe for an Ilford HP5+ film 400 ISO, using twice the Vit-C quantity as stated in the film development chart on this site.
The results are NOT GOOD.
The negatives are all over-exposed when scanning them and you have to do a lot of work with post-production in order to see them quite clearly.
Are you sure it’s still useful to double Vit-C with the grams you told?
What have I done wrong?
Best regards.

    dirk · November 16, 2011 at 8:02 am


    There are so many aspects that can go wrong.
    Are you sure the camera was set to ISO 400?
    Do you now if the camera exposes correctly?
    Which Coffee did you use?
    What was the temperature of the solution?
    How many minutes did you develop?
    Why did you double the Vitamin-C?


      Riccardo · November 16, 2011 at 2:05 pm

      I checked out all the things:

      1) Camera is Pentax MZ-50, with auto ISO reading

      2) The camera exposes correctly. Already checked out.

      3) The coffe has caffein

      4) The temperature was 20 degrees (checked out with my baby’s thermometer).

      5)I developed for 9 minutes.

      6)I doubled Vitamin-C according to

      What have I done wrong?
      The photos (corrected) are visible on

        dirk · November 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm

        Are the negatives very dense or very clear?
        To me some of the pictures look way underdeveloped/underexposed

        Which Brand is your coffee and your Vitamin C?

          Riccardo · November 16, 2011 at 3:27 pm

          The negatives are quite dense, but still readable.
          Coffee is Nescafè with caffein, Vit-C is from an Italian brand but it worked quite well in other applications.

          Negatives as example:

Riccardo · November 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm

OOPS, forgot:

Riccardo · November 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Here’s another one:

Ken · March 25, 2012 at 12:51 pm

How Can we obtain Vitamin C?

Does Lemon work for it?

Chris · April 11, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I’m starting my experience with developing in coffee. I read: “There you have it, Delta-STD, suitable for any kind of film, gives great results with low speed (ISO 100-200) colour films, and medium speed (ISO 400) B&W films with a nice grainy look”. Does it mean, I can develope colour film in coffee? I’ve thought it works with B&W films only… How colour films look, after a development? They are B&W?

Joe Iannandrea · October 3, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I have seen a number of questions here asking if lemon juice could be used in place of vitamin c and, in the absence of any other definitive answer, thought a quick word might save someone the wasted effort of trying this. The short answer is that lemon juice would do the opposite of what vitamin c does in this or any other developer formula. To begin with a liter of lemon juice contains less than half a gram of vitamin c, so even substituting lemon juice for water only yields 1/40th the concentration needed for the delta recipe. This alone would make it unworkable, but the more important point is that lemon juice also contains citric acid (not to be confused with vitamin c itself – ascorbic acid or closely related variants) and in much higher concentrations. Extrapolating from the the substitution ratios I found on baking web-sites, there is about 80ml of citric acid in a liter of lemon juice. This is important because only 5ml/L of citric acid makes an effective stop bath. Bottom line is that not only can’t lemon juice be an effective ingredient in a developer, it would immediately kill the action of any developer it was added to.

Osman Khan · January 3, 2014 at 8:49 am

Thank you for the recipe…but would you be so kind as to let us know what development times are used with the STD recipe? Thank you!

Robin · August 13, 2014 at 11:04 pm

Does anyone have any ideas about Fixer that could be used with caffenol? I’d like to make my own, ideas? Thanks

    Joe Iannandrea · January 11, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    With regard to choice of fixers, the same considerations apply to negatives developed in Caffenol as to those developed in standard commercial developers. If you simply want to make your own fixer I’d recommend reviewing the information in Anchell’s “The Darkroom Cookbook” and trying one of the formulae there. If there are reasons beyond just this motivating you to make your own fixer, such as using only ingredients you can source locally, you might want to put the question out to the peanut gallery in that context, but otherwise if a fixer suits your needs if you develop in D76 or Rodinal, it should be a fine choice to use with Caffenol.

    Sean · May 20, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    I used table salt, it takes a whole day in the solution for the fixer to work. But it works.

Peter Bjerg · February 10, 2021 at 2:25 pm

Dirk. A “Teaspon” as in 1 tsp is an exact volumetric measurement. Its 4.92892159 ml. So the measure 1 tsp, doesn’t depend on the size on any teaspoon in your drawer 🙂

Kodak Portra 100T · June 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm

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