Notebook Review: Coffee Cup Notebooks

By Jessica Coles

Coffee is an essential part of my life.  Most of my coffee consumption at this point in my life comes from a mug although I have gone through countless cups in the past.  Especially at pen shows. So the jump from used coffee cup to paper seems like a great connection to make.  Based on past experiences with recycled paper, however, I was worried about feathering and bleedthrough with fountain pen ink.  So I was happy to receive a pack of these notebooks to try them out and see what they could take!

My first impression of the Coffee Cup notebooks (approximately $18.80 from Back Pocket Notebooks) was quite favorable.  The notebook covers are made from 380gsm paper in a color called Moon Extract.  The name of the color could inspire an entire review on its own.

Each cover in the set of three notebooks came with a different design, and each design is incredible and inspirational; each of the three designs was first created by the artist on coffee cups.

Inside, the 120gsm paper is printed in a cross-grid pattern using a light gray ink.  Each book contains 18 sheets (36 pages) that are staple bound into a single signature (all sheets are folded one inside the next).

Inside the front cover is an explanation of the cover artwork from the artist, Rob Draper.

The inside of the back cover explains the project between Rob Draper and the paper manufacturer, G.F. Smith. I apologize for the cover being pulled away from the staple in this photo — it was taken after I’d been using the notebook for over a month and I have a tendency to fold the cover back on itself.  I also throw this into a bag (NOT into a pocket because pockets are too small for everything) with a pen clipped to the cover (the cover is thick enough that the pen stays clipped, too!) However, this is the only place I see any sign of wear and tear!

The big question, however, is how the paper stands up to fountain pen ink. I ran several tests below with a variety of writing instruments. (The smearing of the Caran d’Ache ink was my fault. Cats and fountain pen ink are not a great combination.)

The Sakura permanent marker soaked into the paper and made the texture look somewhat blurry and the “o” and “t” on Pilot 912 feathered somewhat.  Other than those two instances, there were no issues with writing from any instruments.  The paper does not allow inks to show sheen. Another characteristic I noticed here is the texture of the paper; it is fairly toothy in a way that I found very pleasant.  Writing in pencil on this paper is amazing, as was writing with the 14kt Franklin Christoph nib.  I didn’t notice the texture as much with the other tests.

Looking at the reverse side of the test page, some of the fountain pen ink can be seen ghosting through, but this only comes out in the photo.  During tests, I could not see these marks.

The J. Herbin Amytheste ink bled through a bit in the section where I laid down three layers of the ink, but not during normal writing. I was shocked when the writing from my Pilot 912 did not bleed through at all – that pen puts out a lot of ink!

All ballpoint and gel pens did very well in the test and while the Pentel Sparkle Pop pen shows through, I’ve found that it is up there with Sharpie markers.  It goes through all paper.  I was impressed that Pentel writing stayed crisp and dried quickly. I would not advise using alcohol-based inks on this paper (Sharpies, permanent markers) since it does come close to bleeding through as with the Sakura marker.

Overall, I would absolutely recommend these notebooks.  I love supporting recycling efforts when I can and this is a great way to combine recycling with fountain pens.

Disclaimer: The set of notebooks in this review were provided free of charge by Back Pocket Notebooks for the purpose of this review.  All other items used in the review were purchased by myself.  For more information, see our About page.

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1 comment / Add your comment below

  1. My understanding is that only the covers of these books are recycled cups, the inside paper is not. It isn’t very clear from the information provided with the books but still a great use of old cups though. They are really nice.

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