Let’s start with this sentence: I don’t drink coffee but like the smell of coffee.
I obviously also like stationery and since last week I have some stationery that smells like coffee… A notebook and pen from Nespresso, made from coffee grounds.
Knives and pens, the posh ones
Nespresso has had cooperations with two other Swiss companies, linked to the recycling of their coffee capsules: Victorinox released Swiss Army Knives with scales made from the recycled aluminium from their coffee capsules and Caran d’Ache released the 849 ballpoint pen, also made from the recycled aluminium from their coffee capsules.
There were also cooperations with non-Swiss companies, like the one with Mikov in the Czech Republic. Their Nespresso knife is similarly priced to the Victorinox version. As far as I know, it is only available in the Czech Republic. In contrast, the Victorinox cooperation was available in many countries, but seems to have come to an end or is on hold after having run from 2016 to 2019.
Mikov left, Victorinox right (Images © Nespresso)
Recycled aluminium is common. Wikipedia has a reference from the Economist stating that recycling scrap aluminium requires only 5% of the energy compared to making new aluminium from raw ore and a reference from the US Geological Survey stating that approximately 36% of all aluminium produced in the United States comes from old recycled scrap.
When I came across the Nespresso 849 I was first sceptical of Caran d’Ache’s claim that the Nespresso 849 is actually made from recycled Nespresso capsules.
Why? Someone at Caran d’Ache, maybe the marketing department, has in the past been rather economical with facts. Best example: their Les Crayons de la Maison Caran d’Ache pencils. They now spell out that these are wood pencils reconstituted from poplar and abachi, but in the past their marketing material gave the impression that these pencils are made from exotic wood.
I am relieved that their Nespresso 849 has the text Made with recycled Nespresso capsules written in big, friendly letter on the side of the pencil. This explicitness gives me some reassurance that there is no misunderstanding and that the aluminium in the pen body contains recycled coffee capsules. I wonder whether all 849s are made with a small proportion of recycled Nespresso capsules or whether the Nespresso 849 is made from a completely different batch of aluminium. It seems easier to just mix some recycled capsules into all the scrap aluminium used to produce the new aluminium.
Caran d’Ache’s Nespresso Swiss Wood pencils seem even more exotic: The lead contains 25% coffee grounds. I’d love to see if that makes a difference in terms of erasability and writing experience. They also have metallic ‘colour capsules’ at the end. The first impression seems to be that these are made from recycled Nespresso capsules, but in their video, see below, you can see that the end is actually just paint.
Notebook and pen, the cheap (free) ones
Let’s close in on the main stars of this blog post: the notebook and pen currently being offered as a free gift to (some) Nespresso customers who place an order in the UK and some other markets. As is increasingly common in recent years, loyal customers get a worse deal: as far as I can tell this offer of a free notebook and pen with an order is by invitation only and the more Nespresso wants to bring you back into the fold the better the deal you get. I have seen similar offers from online grocery stores (Ocado) and from music streaming services (Spotify). From what I can tell the best deal offered by Nespresso to get this notebook and pen ‘for free’ was with an order of 5 strips (5*10 capsules). This includes free shipping. If you get this good 5 strips deal you spend around £20 and get the notebook and pen plus 50 capsules, i.e. enough for 50 cups of coffee.
In some areas you don’t need to rely on having been offered the deal as you can also buy the notebook on its own for €18.
The notebook contains 100% recycled paper and the cover contains the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee grounds waste.
The first thing you notice when you open the cardboard box the notebook and pen come in is the strong coffee smell. I am not sure whether this strong and nice coffee odour is purely down to the coffee grounds used to produce the notebook (and maybe the pen) or whether the items have been ‘perfumed’ to smell like coffee or to increase the existing smell.
The notebook is made in the Netherlands and has a thick plastic-like board at the front and back. I assume it is some sort of composite material made form plastic and coffee grounds, similar to the Staedtler Wopex made from wood and plastic or the Kupilka (50% pine and 50% thermoplastic). The patterns on the notebook cover do remind me of the ones found on the Kupilka.
The paper used is nice, but is not fountain pen friendly. It is however suitable for gel pens.
The pen has a similar look to the notebook cover, so I assume it is also made from coffee grounds, but I haven’t seen any official description from Nespresso that confirms this. The clip of the pen looks similar to the clip found on the Lamy Noto. I did not find any markings on the pen or refill, so am not sure who made it or which country it is from. I also did not see any markings on the black ballpoint refill it came with.
If it contains coffee grounds it is not the first pen available with coffee inside. A few years ago Shangching sent me the Fabula pencil, which also contains coffee.
A nice looking notebook and pen. I wish the paper was fountain pen friendly and both items were more easily available. If you can get your hands on them with a good offer then I’d certainly go for it.
The ballpoint pen looks nice, so I might look into putting a gel refill into it. That would make me use it more.
You can buy the Nespresso 849 in the Gentleman Stationer shop.
Prices: July 2021
The images of the knives have been taken from the Nespresso web site. I believe that the use of these images falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.
5 thoughts on “Nespresso notebook and pen”
I love your skepticism on the recycled products. I’m also glad you warned me about the absurdly overpriced Les Crayons de la Maison Caran d’Ache pencils…a big thank you!! Thank goodness these products are not available “down under”.
Thank you for your comment. I am happy you liked this. I was worried it’s too much “my opinion”, but it just isn’t objective so I had to emphasise that.
The Nespresso Swiss Wood pencils are about twice as expensive as the normal Swiss Wood pencils. Compared to the CalCedar Blackwings they don’t seem overpriced. CalCedar really created an unusual niche with very expensive pencils that people spend their money on.
The story for the ‘exotic wood’ pencils is quite different, but I’m happy they now at least make it clear that the pencils are made from reconstituted wood.
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Thank you very much for this story, Matthias. Interesting these new developments. Nespresso probably source their notebooks here: https://www.coffeebased.nl/en/products/ . Such a shame these Mikov Rybicka knives are only sold in Czech Republic and Slovakia. I do think this is a different approach than the Victorinox, Zena, and Caran d’Ache one where they only replaced normal recycled aluminium by their recycled aluminium. Upcycling items by making them hard to get and claiming specialness. A marketing bonanza! Having a new design (Mikov Rybicka) is what elevates such processes to a higher level. Nestlé (Nespresso) can do so much better than riding the train of success provided by these other Swiss makes. Mikov shows the better option.