Ink Notes: J. Herbin Cafe Des Iles

J Herbin Cafe Des Iles Box

Google translate says the french “cafe des isles” is “coffee islands” in english. The ink does have a resemblance to the color of coffee beans. I wanted a darker version of Lie De The’ so decided to give J. Herbin Cafe Des Iles a try.

The ink’s dry time is good for everything up to and including a medium nib. Ten seconds or less on all the paper I used. Dry times with broad and 1.1mm stubs jumped to over 30 seconds before it can’t be smudged or it’s safe to turn the page.

There wasn’t any noticeable feathering until I used a medium or wider nib on cheaper paper. Performance on my usual Rhodia or Doane paper was great.

Bleed through was non-existent. Show through wasn’t a problem with my typical nibs and paper. It did occur with thicker nibs and thinner paper.

The ink was a little hard to clean than J. Herbin Lie De The’ ink but still on the easy side when compared to other brown inks. Overall I’d call it easy to clean.

The ink doesn’t have any water resistance to speak of.

I especially like the way this ink looks on off white paper such as the Doane Jotter paper or yellow pads. It’s completely subjective but they seem to complement each other well. The ink seems to be a bit redder when it’s wet and dries to a slightly deer brown.

Pens Used

The TWSBI Vac 700 was the only pen I used with this ink, but I did use 5 different nibs.

Extra Fine – I used this nib as my daily writer for several days. Flow was consistently good and I didn’t experience any skipping or hesitation. Dry time was about 5 or 6 seconds even though this nib writes on the dry side. Despite the thin line, I didn’t have any problem reading my notes once they dried.

The Fine, Medium, Broad and 1.1mm Stub Italic were just used for the samples in the gallery. The drying time on even the Fine nib was a little longer than I prefer for my daily note taker. The ink really begins to shine with the wetter and wider nibs.

Additional Reading

Review on the Inkophile blog

Review on FPN

5 thoughts on “Ink Notes: J. Herbin Cafe Des Iles

  1. It does look a bit darker than Lie De The, but unfortunately it looks like it loses some shading ability. BTW your written review says you’re using a Rhodia no. 15 dot pad. I don’t think sooo…

  2. Pingback: Monday Notebook, Pen, & Ink Review Round-up | The European Paper CompanyThe European Paper Company

  3. I have a bottle of Café des îles but it dries up on all of my pens, even my wettest nibs. Do you have the same problem after having this ink for quite awhile?

    • @CaitlynSarkar
      I haven’t used the ink a lot but I did have it happen once, although I blamed the pen which was a Parker Duofold which dries out quickly (at least mine does). This pen sat for a week and was hard to start. But that’s happened with other inks on this pen so I blamed the pen, not the ink. To be honest, I can’t remember if it sat in other pens for awhile or was actually used daily, but there weren’t any drying out problems.


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