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This Kopi-Inspired Ink Created By PJ Pen Enthusiast Really Smells Like Coffee!

This Kopi-Inspired Ink Created By PJ Pen Enthusiast Really Smells Like Coffee!

This water-based fountain pen ink has a Kopi O Kaw scent and gives a green highlight when dried!

Melissa Suraya Ismail

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And, no, you can’t lick the ink. This is not the medieval century. Although it would be a great invention back then with the quill. You’re imagining an old guy writing on a parchment paper while licking the tip of his coffee flavoured quill huh?

However, the ink does smell like coffee! Kopi O Kaw, specifically. As that’s is literally what the ink is called. The Diamine Kopi O Kaw ink is created to honour the institution of the kopitiams (coffee shops in Malaysia and Singapore) and its most popular brew, the Kopi O Kaw. Now imagine chill kopitiams with green floral porcelain cups and the coffee itself. Then, take that scene and put it into a pen! Tada! Coffee ink pen!

The ink swatch for Kopi O Kaw.

Meet the creator behind this mind-blowing ink, Mr Lai Kim Hoong. What goes on in his mind and what made him think to invent an ink such as this? We spoke to him to find out more.

Being an owner of PenGallery (a shop that sells luxury pens) and an enthusiast of pens and inks, Mr Lai has long had a passion to bring the community of pen enthusiasts together and to create a product that has a taste of home, Malaysia.

While looking almost black in the bottle, when written, the ink lets out a brown hue on the paper. However, when it’s dried up, you can see some green sheen on the letters. The concept of it is similar to the dark brew of coffee and the actual colour of fresh coffee beans before they’re roasted. And if you really smell it, you can sense the subtle smell of freshly brewed Kopi O Kaw. Being a water-based, scented coffee ink for fountain pens, the ink is sold in an 80ml bottle for RM62.

It looks black but it’s indeed brown. And if you tilt the paper or show it under a light, it’ll give off the green hue.

The purpose behind the creation of this ink is that I made it almost black but it’s actually brown so that people can use it for official work.

It’s actually the same concept with the Kopi O Kaw drink. It looks black but it’s actually brown.

Mr Lai Kim Hoong, Owner of PenGallery & Creator of Diamine Kopi O Kaw shade of ink

Taking around one year to develop the ink with back and forth adjustments, Mr Lai collaborated with a British (Liverpool based) ink manufacturer called Diamine and gave them the concept that he had about the coffee ink.

The location of Mr Lai’s shop (left) and the collection of inks he sells (right).

As he’s already worked together with them on previous Malaysian inspired products, the international company turned his concept into a reality and produced a number of bottles that can only be bought at his online and physical store in SS 2, Petaling Jaya, called PenGallery. From various types of pens (affordable and luxurious ones) to around 1350 unique inks and a plentiful of books, he has them all there.

It feels really good. I love the darkness of the Kopi O Kaw ink as it can also pass as black. I can sign documents with it and it can also be an everyday carrying.

He really knows how to do his business and he has the best prices for them.

Nigel, Fountain Pen Enthusiast

This is his third invention for the Diamine ink shades. Previously, he worked with them on an ink called Jalur Gemilang (blue with red sheen) and also Manggis (purple with green sheen). He loves working with Diamine as they are a forward-thinking company and this creation doesn’t only benefit him, it benefits them as well as other people can co-create their own shade of ink.

The ink swatches for his Malaysian collection of Diamine ink shades.
The Jalur Gemilang ink (the first creation) is blue in colour with a red sheen.
The Manggis ink (the second creation) has a purple colour with a green sheen.

Besides ink, Mr Lai also created a limited edition fountain pen called the Durian Musang King with a 21K gold nib. Look at that creativity! Thank god it’s not scented or flavoured, or else…

The Durian Musang King pen.

This hobby of his all started 26 years ago when he worked at Pelikan, a German high-quality stationery company.

From there, I developed the passion for fountain pens and their inks and started talking about it online with people who share the same passion as me.

When they said that it’s hard to find a good fountain pen in their respective countries, I saw a need for this product and took that opportunity. And the rest is history.

Mr Lai Kim Hoong, Owner of PenGallery & Creator of Diamine Kopi O Kaw shade of ink

For him, writing is as old as mankind and it’s still practised today. A lot of people miss out on writing as the digital age progresses. With fountain pens, you can have a lot of exciting colours to play with and also have a chance to create something worthwhile.

Most importantly, this passion has formed an incredible bond in the community among people of different backgrounds, all because of their love for fountain pens. Did you know that they have a fest in October called Inktober? It’s where a lot of fountain pen enthusiasts come together at Mr Lai’s store to exchange bottles of unfinished inks. And they also have a World Fountain Pen Day on the first Friday of November every year, where they get together and share their adoration for pens once again.

Mr Lai (owner,right) showing off his new Kopi O Kaw ink with Mr Nigel (fountain pen enthusiast,left), holding a German-made fountain pen that he bought there.

Fountain pens are making a comeback in the midst of this digital age. Let’s not loose it. After all a pen is mightier than a sword.

Mr Lai Kim Hoong, Owner of PenGallery & Creator of Diamine Kopi O Kaw shade of ink

All of his inks are available only from his store so if you’re wondering what the ink smells like, drop by his store or take a look at it here. [Warning: We know it’ll smell tempting but do not drink the ink!]


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