It seems as if it were just yesterday that Pelikan announced a new M200 model for 2015 and, two months later, we now have the Café Crème (pronounced kah/fay krehm) in hand. The company has been producing many special editions in recent times within both its Classic and Souverän lines. For the M200 line, Pelikan gave us the clear transparent demonstrator in 2012 which they followed up in 2014 with the cognac transparent demonstrator. Both of those releases were nice pens but ultimately were little more than re-releases of prior M200 models with a slight upgrade of the cap top trim. While this was welcomed by many due to the relative scarcity of examples from the original release on the secondary market, the new models overall have felt uninspired and stale. What’s more is that pen collectors/users are very polarized over demonstrator models with one camp loving them and another loathing them without much middle ground in between. This years release does not feel rehashed but instead seems to offer a truly new and unique pen that brings back some excitement to Pelikan’s entry-level line-up. Inspired by the world of coffee, this pen is anything but stale and whatever your taste may be, this release hopefully signals a game change from the creative minds at Pelikan.
Appearance & Design (9/10) – Something we haven’t seen before that packs a subtle punch
The first thing that you will notice is the packaging and this may vary from vendor to vendor by some degree. My example came in a G5 gift box which consist of a drawer like compartment housing a vellum wrap with a ribbon tie. While many won’t give this packaging a second thought, it is nice that it is there and really enhances the presentation, especially if this pen is being given as a gift. The M200 Café Crème boast a finish that has not been seen on any of the prior M2xx releases. The barrel is a cream color which does not at all come across as too white as I know some had feared. There is a rich brown colored ink window where the barrel meets the section. The section, piston knob, and cap are done in a shade reminiscent of milk chocolate and offset the cream barrel in spectacular fashion. This is not the same dark brown bordering on black that we’ve seen in prior tortoise releases but rather a whole new shade. The gold furniture of the pen also stands out nicely offering a welcome bit of contrast against the brown elements. What all of the aforementioned does is come together in a stunning package that needs to be seen in person to be truly appreciated. I have heard some early detractors write this model off as being too feminine in appearance to be suitable for a male user but I whole heartedly disagree with that characterization. There is nothing overly feminine about this pen. It is subtle and refined in its appearance but also playful without being childish. I think that it would be just as well suited to a leisurely Sunday of writing as it would a grueling board meeting full of note taking. If the coloring of a latte macchiato drink truly was the inspiration behind this pen, its designers met the challenge and succeeded in producing a faithful, pleasing homage.
Construction & Quality (9/10) – Solid build quality with good fit and finish
Like most other Pelikan’s in general, the build quality is not of any real concern. The pen has a solid feel in the hand and though it weighs only 14 grams, does not come off as overly light or toy-like in its feel. While I would not wish to drop it to the ground, I at least feel there is some reasonable chance of survival should that occur. The cap is held tightly when screwed onto the section and it also post securely for those that prefer to post their pens. The piston operates very smoothly and the piston knob seats firmly against the back of the barrel. A seam can be appreciated on the section but this is common to all pens in the M2xx family and owes to the injection moulding process used in their manufacture. These lines are not present on the higher end Souverän line. While completely unobtrusive and hardly noticeable, I am aware that some take issue with their presence.
Weight & Dimensions (8.5/10) – Light in weight without feeling particularly fragile
Like the other M200 pens, the Café Crème is light weight and small. It weighs just 14 grams and while it is only 4.92 inches capped, expands to 5.83 inches posted. The short size when capped works well in the shirt pocket environment and the beauty of the pen’s design is truly only appreciated when posted. By posting, the pen takes on a very comfortable length and maintains a superb balance in the hand. It is 12.3mm in diameter and has an ink capacity of 1.2mL. Considered small by today’s standards, this remains a very comfortably sized pen for small or large hands.
Nib & Performance (8/10) – Wet with a slight spring and a relatively true size designation
Like the other pens in the M200 line, the Café Crème comes equipped with a standard gold-plated stainless steel nib. Pelikan has drastically cut back on the nib sizes offered across their lines and these currently are only available in EF, F, M, and B. Conspicuously absent is the italic option that was available with the cognac model. My example wrote well out of the box and did not require any adjustment. It is a fine nib which writes a wet fine-medium line depending on the ink/paper combo used. I find that the stainless steel nibs are generally more true to their sizing than their golden brethren which seem to write somewhat wider. There is just a slight amount of spring appreciated and there is a small amount of tooth on this nib providing excellent feedback. Overall a very enjoyable writing experience. There is no discernible character to the line this nib lays down but for day-to-day writing tasks, it is more than serviceable. A writing sample is included in the video at the end of this post.
Filling System & Maintenance (10/10) – No surprises here, a smooth and reliable piston
This is a piston filling pen with a filling system based on Pelikan’s historic mechanism which has been in place for generations. The piston has a smooth range of travel and provides a nearly full fill on a single stroke. The piston is friction fitted to the barrel and therefore should not be removed unless absolutely necessary or else you risk damaging the retention mechanism. That is not an issue though as these modern pistons are very durable and should provide trouble-free service for quite some time. The nib can be unscrewed to facilitate flushing and re-application of silicone grease when necessary making these pens very user-friendly and serviceable. Also, the nibs are interchangeable by the user which helps facilitate variety and makes nib replacement/repair easy.
Cost & Value (7.5/10) – Pelikan has raised their prices over the last several years but deals can still be had
While Pelikan has been steadily raising their prices over the last several years, the entry-level nature of this pen helps to keep it affordable. It is a special edition pen and therefore is not a limited production run but when the run ends, no more will be produced. That said, I’d expect there to be no shortage of supply, at least in the short-term. I have seen some variability in the pricing for this pen with figures ranging from $110 to $165 so I would encourage you to shop around to get the best possible deal. At $165, it is pricey but your money will purchase a quality product that should last for a long time making it a reasonable investment. At the lower end of the range, the decision becomes much easier though still puts the Café Crème at a higher price point than many comparable models from other manufacturers. Of course with your purchase you will get the option of a nib exchange, free of charge, within the first 30 days as well as a 3 year warranty against material defect.
Conclusion – A beautiful pen that breathes new life into Pelikan’s Classic line
M200 Café Crème: 52/60 or 87%
I find the Café Crème to be stunning in a subtle way. It’s color scheme is inspired and not the rehashed palette that we’ve seen over the past several years. It is a dependable writer that holds a generous amount of ink and feels well-balanced and comfortable in the hand. I am enjoying my pen tremendously and would recommend it to anyone. If you’ve been looking to add a new Pelikan to the flock or are just starting out with the brand, you could do much worse than to bring home this latte inspired writer. Between this and the upcoming M805 Stresemann, I think Pelikan has found a creative stride that rings true to the brand’s heritage while adding a sense of innovation all of which makes me excited to see what they will come up with next.
A Look At The Pelikan M200 Café Crème
Pelikan M200 Café Crème Writing Sample
*The pen utilized for this review is my own from my personal collection and therefore the opinions expressed are also mine and free of any undue influence.