June 12, 2010

Who invented coffee based development?

When asking myself who invented Caffenol, I stumbled across an article by Dr. Scott A. Williams Ph.D., Rochester Institute of Technologie (R.I.T.). The Technical Photography 1995 Class under the leadership of Dr. Williams should research non traditional developers based on household ingredients and after some unsuccessful trials they decided to test drinks with caffeine like tea or coffee. Coffee was the winner and that was the beginning of coffee based developing. They used baking soda and potassium hydroxide for buffering the pH of 9. The name Caffenol wasn't yet created. We now use the more conveniant washing soda as pH adjusting agent, and the later addition of Vitamin-C since about the year 2000 improves the image quality dramatically. If you want to read the whole article, look here: http://people.rit.edu/andpph/text-coffee.html

The article is pure text without images, but refers to images that once must have been attached. I searched the web to find the lost images, but couldn't find them. So I decided to contact Dr. Williams via email and he sent me the original article, published in "Darkroom and Creative Camera Techniques", issue Sept/Okt 1995, with the kind permission to publish the images here on my blog. I don't want to bore you with scientific figures of molecular structures, but I'm pretty sure that you are curious who the people were and looked like. So here we go:

You deserve our highest appreciation

Thank you so much. Best regards - Reinhold


Unknown said...

Very interesting article.

I would not mind to have some "scientific figures of molecular structures"

www.apug.org said...

Very very cool! :)

Jesse said...

I would also be interested in those scientific figures and molecular structures... :)

perhaps you can post it somewhere that us curious folk can take a look?

thanks! your blog is great!

imagesfrugales said...

Hi Jessi and Romary,

nothing special, search wikipedia for caffeic acid, catechol and caffein, that's it.

Ashley Pomeroy said...

You know, that coffee cup in the back row is the Holy Coffee Cup of Caffenol. The originator! I wonder if it's in a museum somewhere?

There are a few informal blog posts, and replies on Photo.net, in which people date the technique back to the Second World War, but I get the impression that it was a very impractical novelty until the Vitamin C idea.