To be fair I should confess that I’m not a coffee person, in fact I hate the stuff… That being said the ink I’m reviewing today goes well at whatever time of day. This morning I’ve been writing a few lines with it and like it very much – so it’s as close to a morning coffee as I’m ever going to get. This is J Herbin’s ‘Café des Îles’, which I think translates as ‘coffee islands’ which is a nice enough name and the colour of the ink certainly has a coffee/chocolate air to it.
Presentation: I like the way that these inks are presented, nice box and an attractive bottle with the oft mentioned pen rest on the front. I’ve waxed lyrical about these elsewhere do I wont repeat myself here.
On Test: This ink is a nice rich brown with a lot of character, (yes it is possible to produce one). Somewhat lighter than my favourite brown ink Pilot Iroshizuku Tsukushi I was pleased that my test pen, a vintage Mentmore auto-flow with a 14K gold nib, was able to extract some very pleasant shading from this ink varying from a rich chestnut to a dark coffee colour.
As always the ink behaves well, better in my view than some of the more watery J Herbin inks that I’m generally less fond of. It dried somewhere between 20 and 30 seconds on my test paper which compares well to other inks, I’ve read some review that quote much faster drying but I presume that’s with much finer and drier nibs than I use. It is not water-resistant to any great degree so needs to be used appropriately.
Summary: I like Café des Îsles. It is an ink that I find myself returning to again and again. Even though it isn’t an ink with the highest level of contrast or shading, I find its tone to be interesting, which makes it well-suited for my writing style.