Caran d’Ache 849 Nespresso Pen

I was eying the Caran d’Ache 849 line for a while, wondering whether to try one or not. On the one hand I really liked their design. On the other hand, they’re ballpoint pens, and I have very little use for ballpoint pens. They require pressure to write with, and with my carpal tunnel problems, ballpoint-caused pain is what made me research and get into fountain pens in the first place.

Then I started getting emails about the Caran d’Ache 849 collaboration with Nespresso. From Cult Pen’s website:

In 2015 Nespresso launched its Second Life project, the aim of which is to recycle its aluminium coffee capsules and use them to create other products. Caran d’Ache’s 849 was a perfect candidate! An exclusive alloy using the aluminium from the Nespresso capsules was created in order to meet the 849’s quality requirements, and the ‘Darkhan’ capsule was chosen to lend its dark blue colour to the Nespresso 849 Limited Edition.

Well that got me hooked. I enjoy Nespresso’s capsules and especially its design, and I was intrigued by the idea of its capsules (which I recycle) ending up in such an iconic pen. A quick order from Cult Pens (who now have free international shipping for orders over £50) later, and this arrived:

The packaging is recycled, beautiful, and really evokes a Nespresso capsule sleeve:

The pen has ” Made with Recycled Nespresso Capsules” screen printed on it as well as all the usual, understated Caran d’Ache branding.

I took advantage of the free shipping to also order an 849 Tropical pen, and unlike that and other, more standard, 849s, this pen has a textured, beaded body. If you have sweaty hands, this is a blessing, of course.

Although it’s a metal-bodied pen it is surprisingly light and very well balanced. Even if you have tiny hands you shouldn’t have any trouble using this pen for long periods of time. The knock is so smooth that it doesn’t click, which I found a bit annoying. I’m used to pen knocks clicking unless they are faulty, and so I found myself constantly pausing to check if the mechanism had fully engaged before I started writing.

I don’t use ballpoints for writing, especially not for long periods of time, but this pen is obviously built to be a workhorse. Nothing rattles when you write, the refill is smooth, with no blobs of ink and no problems starting. Thin white streaks appear now and then while writing, but that’s to be expected and is hardly noticeable. Unlike many ballpoint refills, the Caran d’Ache Goliath refill that comes with this pen dries almost immediately, even on Moleskine paper, making it friendly for left-handed writers.

All in all a great pen, and a perfect gift for the Nespresso lover in your life.

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Caran d’Ache 849 Nespresso Pen

Which Notebooks I’m Currently Using

I love reading about how other people use their notebooks and pens/pencils, so I decided to take the time to list what I’m currently using and how:

  • Field Notes Front Page – used in landscape mode with a Blackwing 16.2 to take notes while I work through the third draft of my novel. Something about the format of this notebook appeals to me, especially in landscape mode. I ignore the lines completely (easy to do, since they’re so faint). Also works well while I’m typing, since it’s thin enough not to get in the way. I just put it below my keyboard, a pause to jot a quick note when I need to.
  • Field Notes Dime Novel – I use this as a catch-all and home to do list notebook, using whichever fountain pen I have inked at the moment.
  • Moleskine Star Wars Lightsaber Duel – used as my daily journal, coupled with a Ti Arto with a uni-ball Signo 0.5 gel refill (UMR-85) and a Scotch glue stick to paste bits and bobs in. I’ve been using this combo for about two years now (with different Moleskine lined notebooks), and I couldn’t be happier with it.
  • Moleskine Large Squared  – used as my “bullet journal” at work. I’ve simplified the bullet journal system (removed the calendars entirely) and it’s now a daily checklist + work journal that serves to answer two questions: what am I going to do today, and what have I actually done. Keeps me sane and happy, especially when outages derail my day. I use a Zebra G-301 pen with this that I bought in Atlanta in 2012, and it is still going strong. I go through about a refill every two months, so this isn’t the most economical of systems…
  • Moleskine pocket square reporter – a new one for me. I’m using it to keep a running food journal, using a Retro 51 tornado slim graphite filled with a parker gel refill.
  • Paper for Fountain Pens notebook – together with sheafs of Tomoe River paper, this is what I use for my writing notes, quick drafts, and when I’m working through plot holes. I use whatever fountain pen I have going at the time, usually two pens with two different inks, Neil Gaiman style.
  • Moleskine two-go – I’m using this as my reading journal. I log all the books I read here. Previously I used two Field Notes Arts notebooks, but I ran out of them, so I moved to this. Using a Karas Kustoms grey RenderK in this, coupled with a Caran d’Ache Bicolor pencil to highlight things, and whatever other pencil I have laying around, for extra notes.
  • Baron Fig Three Legged Jester Confidant – using this to track my resolutions for several years now. Used to be my daily journal.
  • Moleskine softcover squared pocket reporter – using this to keep track of story ideas. I write in it with whatever is on hand.

A large pile of notebooks

Which Notebooks I’m Currently Using

Review: Parker Jotter London Architecture

Before I got into fountain pens and gel ink pens became available in the market, I used to use ballpoint pens for taking notes, and the Parker Jotter was my favourite. It was the first pen I invested “real money” into when I was still in high school, and I still have that purple pen knocking about somewhere in the house. The refills were always a problem, with blobbing, streaking and hard starts something common to all ballpoints, even the Jotter with its “Quinkflow” refills, but you could shade with the pen, which meant that you could doodle in your notebook while bored — a big plus for me.

I switched to fountain pens when I started my BA and my wrist pains got worst than ever, because I was practically carving the words into the page. Since then, gel pens and fountain pens have ruled the roost on my desk, with only a Kara’s Kustoms Render K with a Schmidt easyflow 9000 M in black filling my few ballpoint needs. When they don’t blob, ballpoints are great after all, especially if you want to jot something down and not have to wait for the ink to dry.

But when Jet Pens added four limited edition Parker Jotters, each one celebrating a different London architectural icon (Bronze for Big Ben, Red for Buckingham Palace, Sky Blue for the Shard, and Black for the Gherkin), I knew I had to reopen the ballpoint chapter in my life.

The packaging is stunning, as you can see for yourself:

Not many pens at this price level come in such nice boxes, which makes them perfect gifts (I bought all four pens and intend to give away three of them as gifts).

Ballpoints aren’t much fun for me to write with, because I have RSI problems and they require pressure to use, but they are fun to sketch and doodle with. So much shading with one pen:

The etching on the pen makes it very easy to grip once you start writing or sketching, but it does feel a bit rough on the fingers when you just pick the pen up or fiddle with it. The click mechanism and clip are Parker solid, and colours and design of these pens are fantastic:

The minus is of course the refill, which is smooth with no railroading, but does blob a bit, mostly when you sketch, not so much when you just write with it.

The funniest thing about these pens that celebrate such very British icons, is that they are made in France (until 2011 Parker pens were made in the UK).

If you enjoy ballpoint pens and don’t have a Parker Jotter or like the look of these pens, I recommend these. They are tough workhorses and good looking pens.

If you love London as much as I do, I recommend these.

If you’re looking for a nice gift for someone, particularly an architecture or design student, I recommend these.

For me personally, gel pens and fountain pens will continue to rule the roost.

Review: Parker Jotter London Architecture

Olive Traveler’s Notebook

My new Traveler's Notebook arrived yesterday, the Olive limited edition, and I took some time tonight to customise it.

That's my favourite part of starting a new Traveler's Notebook – setting it up, making it my own – and the main reason I enjoy them so much. This is my fourth TN. I have a Camel limited edition from their 5 year anniversary, a black one, and a pocket one. The camel is my most used
one.
First I decorated the notebook it came with, using Windsor Newton gouache. I love ivy and the greenish tinge if the cover inspired me.

I added a leaf charm to the bookmark and slotted in another notebook — an old Midori sketchbook I had laying around.

That's it, now all that remains is to use it.

P.S. I read a review in some site that these TNs have a suede like feeling to them, but they feel like a normal TN to me.
P. P. S. These covers don't stay pristine for long (and that's their charm), so if you're precious about your things, these aren't for you.

Olive Traveler’s Notebook