Fair enough, and I appreciate all the info that you have shared. Xtol is expensive and only sporadically available in South Africa. Because of the weight, it is quite expensive to import directly. It doesn't seem to be available in 1 liter quantity any longer, which is a pity, as one could have sneaked in a small packet with a film order without affecting the shipping cost that much. It was more for the fun of trying something new that I went onto the "albino" caffenol tangent. I was also hoping to make a paper developer similar to Patrick Gainer's formulas that are based on phenidone, and for interest's sake will still give it a go if I can get suitable material without too much hassle. There is little point in exploring impractical options. Let me see if the wild goose chase lands us a goose - if it doesn't, then none of us are any worse off.
There's a thread here about someone's experiments with edible developers. How's that for environmentally friendly?
Shoot more film.
There are eight ways to put a slide into a projector tray. Seven of them are wrong.
instant coffee is usually made of robusta coffee beans, not arabica beans.
just try to find the cheapest instant coffee you can find, around here
it sometimes goes for $1USD/jar.
if cost is a factor for you ( for the coffee ) see if you can make friends
with a coffee roaster and get GREEN coffee beans. you can roast them on your grill
or stove in a pan / wok, or in a popcorn popper, and just make a pot of coffee ( 2tbs/ cup as you would
with coffee you drink ) and you will be using the best caffenol and least expensive caffenol you can buy.
i use beans, not instant, and i would be happy to send you some, but i have a feeling shipping &c will
be excessive, and cost more than buying it local ...
good luck !
Thanks for the kind offer. I know of a local importer of raw beans, and will see if I can strike up a friendship. Usually the surprise value of the end use is enough to win someone over. I was hoping to make a clear developer that is also suitable for paper, but right now that isn't a particularly high priority. If the caffeic acid is already present in the green bean, then presumably one can circumvent the roasting process (which also potentially destroys some of the active ingredients). Another possible route is to ask a production manager at a coffee factory that produces decaf, if one can have a few hundred grams of the extract including the caffeine, before it is worked up further. However, I have no idea whether the form is oily liquid, goop, powder or whatever. I assume the extraction involves supercritical CO2. Which makes me wonder: If it works for caffeic acid, shouldn't it work very well for rosmarinic and other potential developing acids? I know of a local gang looking at essential oils and other extracts from our local aromatic plants (Pelargoniums, many plants of the sage and citrus families etc.). Maybe a quick call to them might be of use. Anyway, that's a topic for another day. I have also wondered, since the pure compounds are sometimes rather insoluble in water, whether boiling the coffee beans, rosemary, mint or whatever, in a weak hydroxide solution will allow better extraction as it will produce the conjugate ion (caffeate, rosmarinate etc.) that should theoretically be more soluble. Have you tried this with coffee beans?
As for cost: It comes to R45 (roughly $5) per 200 grams for instant coffee, so close to $1 per liter of developer. Not high and not low. By comparison, it is cheaper than Xtol and more expensive than Rodinal. I think most people using caffenol have a motivation other than cost or convenience, at least that is how it seems.
Thanks for the encouragement.
make sure ... if you get beans from a local roaster
that the "line" isn't curved but straight. the curved line
is arabica the straight ones are robusta. ( the line on the flat underside of the coffee bean )
i presently use half roasted, half green beans when i make caffenol.
i mix a very strong batch and probably over add vit c and washing soda.
it's a mix of 22 tablespoons of coarse ground coffee in a 10cup perk ( roughly 750cc 1 coffee scoop / cup + 1 for the pot
as i would when i make coffee to drink ) i add about 3oz of sodium carb and maybe 2/3 that amount of vit c ( i add until it foams then i stop )
i also add in 10-15cc of ansco 130 print dev / L of caffenol. it comes out to 4¢/ sheet-roll &c of film
and i process my prints in it too .. it lasts between 3 and 6 months without replenishment ...
i always have 2L and when i feel i want to make more developer, i take 1L out, and add 1L in ... hasn't failed me yet
for the instant, the arabica is just added to make it taste better, the cheaper has less arabica and more robusta.
when i was in france " old gringo" brand was the bottom of the barrel, the cheapest and made great developer.
to answer your questions about boiling and make a solution &c ...
nope i have never done anything more than just dump the ingredients in a vat
and mix them up
your roasting plant idea sounds interesting, but i don't know
there might be other things, aside from just the caffic acid that play a role
in caffenol. i've been using it for 6+ years now and while i have a system that works for me
i am pretty much a babe in the woods ...
good luck !
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Thanks for the additional info - I will most definitely give it a try once I can get robusta beans. My parents' garden where I grew up had a coffee hedge - the house is now long sold. Had I known then ;-). Coffee is grown in South Africa (in limited quantity) - I just need to find out whether the robusta variety is readily available. Since we aren't discriminating about the taste here, the bottom rung of the price ladder should suffice.
We do have a coffee grinder, which will soon be put to good use. I am thinking that it is probably necessary to bake the green beans at low heat (ca 90 deg C) just to thoroughly dry them before grinding, otherwise it will be like making peanut butter. As for paper developer, I am thinking that using only green beans should give a developer that is clear enough not to stain the paper too much. OTOH, the stain might add to the charm of the print in some cases. But it would be preferable to have control over that.
After reading the "Edible Film Developers" thread I am now a bit wiser as to what might and might not work. My point of departure is that whatever one uses must be practical, as that usually outlasts the charm of doing something outlandish. I think caffenol strikes a nice balance between the two.
I am a chemical engineer (disclaimer: I last touched an organic chemistry textbook twenty years ago) and it should be comparatively easy to design an extraction system to automate all of this. That said, it is difficult to achieve this on the scale that can be practiced in a kitchen, darkroom or garage. That is where I hoped a hydroxide extraction would make for an easy way to get the active ingredients out of aromatic plants, as that can be done on a stove. We are only interested in developing chemicals, not all the other oily aromatic substances too. Just about all of the developers are active as salts of an alkali metal, if I understand correctly. I'll try with mint, rosemary and whatever else I can find in our garden, and I will post the results at some stage. To be clear, I will specifically use something like 2 grams/liter of KOH for the boiling part, and then I will add ascorbate typically in the caffenol quantities to increase the activity. I have a good reference standard for ascorbate only, so should be able to instantly see an increase in developer activity.
there are a couple of active Caffenol groups on Flickr (if you concern yourself with hybrid process) which I think would welcome hearing about your investigations.