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How better to give us a boost as summer ends and the autumnal weather starts than to give in to our sugar cravings with a nice piece of cake. Come late August 2019 and Monteverde helped fill that craving from an ink angle with the Sweet Life set.

For those unaware, Monteverde are a sister brand of Conklin under ‘Yafa Brands’ and named after the founder, Jerry Greenberg. All inks by the group have been released under the Monteverde name, with an expanding range including various special editions.

Sweet Life was a selection of ten cake/pudding related colours, available both as individual 30ml and 90ml bottles and as a box set of the smaller size. At the time of writing (late August 2022) there are still a few stores with individual bottles in stock.

Caveat time. I was provided with samples by Penultimate Dave, however his bottle of Mango Mousse had gone mouldy and so I only had 9 inks to cover here and in future individual articles. This shrank to 8 as I was since warned that his bottle of Iced Cookie had also has succumbed to contamination, though this still allowed me to produce the swatch card at the end of this article.

Care of the Yafa Brands website.

I am making the assumption that a poll went round the office with the most popular cakes being chosen. The net result is we have some interesting looking inks, but with a few which at first appear to be not too dissimilar. Certainly this is not your standard set of inks, but more a fun selection.

Care of the Yafa Brands website.

As I just have a set of sample vials (I can hardly complain) I can only show you the online pictures of the bottles (above) and how the inks are presented (towards the bottom of this article). The bottles picture shows each ink, though across a range of formats including the aforementioned 30ml and 90ml bottles and also 50ml ‘Portable Ink Capsules’, which I have not seen before, but do seem to be available outside of the UK.

The swabbing process showed that these should all be well behaved inks. Also any concerns I had of colours being too similar were assuaged. It is hard to find different inks these days, however a number do stand out as being interesting, particularly the Iced Cookie and Pumpkin Pie.

The scan of the comparison page does show how there is a difference in what you can expect from wet and dry nibs, though with a couple of the darker inks the difference is not so great. Note if I do get a safe sample of Mango Mousse then I will update the above picture.


I like the fact these inks do fit a fun theme and some of them are different, however many are not. The key thing though is the box set was a reduced cost way of buying all the inks as they were available separately from the start and I really like that approach and attitude.

Care of the Monteverde website.

Presently I can find a set going in the UK for £60, originally it would have been £90. This is for the ten 30ml bottles. From what I can tell the Sweet Life 30ml and 90ml bottles sold for the regular price, though Monteverde inks are now hard to find in the UK and Europe, with Cult Pens selling £30ml bottles for £8.89 and 90ml ones for £16.69. In the USA they appear to go for $8 and $16 respectively. The net result is these are mid priced inks, sitting above the likes of Diamine and Herbin, but at the same time well below that of the luxury inks. The problem here is the brand developed a decent reputation for safe and solid inks but in recent times there have been reports of problem bottles, with two of the 10 bottles in the set my samples were supplied from now having to be ditched due to mould. Hopefully it was a blip with contamination in the factory which has now been sorted, however it does mean I can not recommend this set.

Materials Used

The Well Appointed Desk Col-O-Ring Ink Test cards.
HP Papers Premium A4 90gsm printer paper.
Generic cotton buds for swabbing.
Glass dip pen for writing on the test cards.

Individual Swab Test Cards

These were scanned using VueScan software on a Canon LiDE 400 scanner with a resolution of 1200 dpi.