Nespresso

Nespresso + Caran d’Ache

Thanks to Pen Heaven I was able to get my hands on a Nespresso + Caran d’Ache fixpencil for the purpose of writing a review.

Cooperations, like the one between Nespresso and Caran d’Ache, often use the letter “x” between the two company names, but Nespresso and Caran d’Ache have opted for the use of the “+” instead, so I will follow their approach.

Before the Fixpencil arrived I expected to see a lead holder that is basically the same as the standard Caran d’Ache (CdA) Fixpencil, just in a different colour, but to my surprise there were several unexpected, but noticeable, if small, differences.

First up: the pen itself.

The surface of the pen, or rather the paint, is less smooth that the other CdA Fixpencils I have handled so far. This surface is not too rough for your fingers and feels pleasant to use. The colour is imitating the aluminium look of the Nespresso coffee capsules.

My pen had three small indentation on the body that don’t seem to belong there. I assume this is a one-off quality control issue.

This Fixpencil is most likely not the only CdA made from recycled aluminium, as mentioned in my previous Nespresso bog post, so I assume the issue with the dents is not a direct result of using recycled aluminium. The dents could probably have occurred with any CdA Fixpencil or other hexagonal aluminium pen, like the 849 and I wouldn’t expect to to be common.

The packaging states that the pen is "made from Nespresso recycled aluminium equivalent to one capsule"

The packaging states that the pen is made from Nespresso recycled aluminium equivalent to one capsule. A very specific claim and as mentioned before I will believe this claim despite some of CdA’s previous claims that were misleading.

When I first used this lead holder I thought the pen feels lighter or ‘hollower’. After using the pen a few times I must have gotten used to it as I don’t notice this anymore, A quick trip to the scales confirmed the initial impression, though: The Fixpencil 22 and the Fixpencil 884 (Junior) both weigh 11.75g, while the Nespresso + Caran d’Ache edition weighs 11.05g.

Top to bottom: Fixpencil 884 (Junior), Nespresso + CdA, Fixpencil 22

The internal mechanism also came as a surprise. The mechanism is the same as in the currently available Fixpencil 884 (Junior). I write “currently available” as the 884 might have contained a different mechanism in the past, but I am not able to verify this.

The use of the 884’s mechanism also means that the Nespresso’s push button does not come with an (emergency) sharpener. As shown on the photo above, the push button is the end of an internal plastic pipe.

Next: the lead

To me the Nespresso lead is a big let down. The packaging states that the lead is “partly produced with Nespresso recycled coffee grounds”.

Weight-wise the lead is similar to the CdA Technograph lead, but the surface looks very different: rough and matt instead of smooth and shiny.

This is an interesting idea, but unfortunately, the lead doesn’t write very well, unless you are keen on faint pencil lines. If wonder if those coffee grounds would have had a better use if they were used as fertiliser. Depending on the paper you write on this issue is more or less pronounced, but for me the Nespresso lead’s attributes are nowhere near as desirable as the Technograph’s.

Top: CdA Teachnograph lead, bottom: Nespresso + CdA lead

The lead feels smooth on most paper, but produced a very light line on paper, much lighter than what you would get from Faber-Castell for example. I mention Faber-Castell because the lines produced by their leads are already very light compared to other, like Staedtler for example. Pressing harder when writing with the Nespresso lead won’t help with producing a darker line, i.e. the lead has a high pressure insensitivity.

When you sharpen the lead to a fine point it also seems to break easier than the Technograph lead. To some extent this behaviour reminds me of the Wopex lead, just that the Nespresso lead provides a much worse writing experience. I haven’t had a chance yet to use the Nespresso wood-cased pencil and I doubt I will find someone IRL who owns some and let me try, but based on Pencil Talk’s review of the Nespresso Swiss Wood Pencils, which doesn’t mention the issues I encountered, I wonder if the lead in the Nespresso Fixpencil is worse than the one from the Nespresso pencils.

A side point, but just in case you wonder: the Nespresso lead weighs the same as the Technograph lead.

Overall, this is a nice lead holder with a good, sturdy build. It would have been nice if this Fixpencil came with the same mechanism as the Fixpencil 22. The higher price than normal Fixpencil is due to the fact that this is a Limited Edition – funnily enough that links strongly to Kiwi-D’s and Koralatov’s comments on my previous blog post.


You can find another review of this pencil at The Gentleman Stationer.

Nespresso notebook and pen

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.

You can see the pattern of the plastic-like cover on the left

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.

Kupilka and Wopex. Click on the photo for a link to the blog post.

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.

Top: Nespresso, Bottom: Lamy Noto – unfortunately the similarity of the clips is not easy to see on a two-dimensional photo, especially not on this one.

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/6gMmWFBCZA/

Conclusion

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.

Writing sample on the recycled paper. You can see that the paper sucks ink in. the EF in the last line should have been very thin.

The ballpoint pen looks nice, so I might look into putting a gel refill into it. That would make me use it more.

The ink is bleeding through the paper

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.