When it comes to planners, the ones that Starbucks releases annually is arguably the most sought after. That’s why there are relatively longer lines for coffee at this time of the year: the Starbucks 2023 planner is already here. And we’re here to review it.

If you’re into fountain pens, you understand that not all paper can take them well. There are, after all, reliably-friendly options for our nibs and inks.

LIST: Guaranteed fountain pen friendly planners.

But how does the Starbucks 2023 Planner hold up? To find out, we treated a lot of people to cups of coffee to get our hands on a black version on the planner. And just like our review on Manix Abrera’s Terror Prof Blue Book, we brought out non-nib writing tools as well.

The Cover

The black planner features a textured soft leather cover with grey and rose gold touches. It is held shut by a leather strip and a metal snap button with the mermaid logo on it.


Right behind the front cover is a relatively-large pocket that is perfect for paper ephemera.

Inside the planner

While the cover is 5.5×7.5 inches, the paper and zippered pouch that comes with it fall under the personal size (95x171mm). It also features a 6-ring.

This means that if when you finish with the planner next year (or get tired of the paper halfway through), you can put in fresh refills.

Available options for ready-made refills is a different discussion, however. Thought, if you’re willing to DIY, then there are loads of fountain pen-friendly sheet to choose from, with one being Philippine-made.

LIST: Filipino brands for fountain pen folks in the Philippines

The zippered pouch, or organizer, can fit Philippine peso bills with a bit of maneuvering.

There are also mermaid-inspired art on the inside cover pages at both ends.

Each month starts with an artwork followed by a monthly calendar view across a spread (or two pages).

Up next are three spreads featuring one week per page.

After these, there are 6 dotted spreads before the pages transition to an another artwork. Our writing tests are written on the dotted spreads, but we’ll get to that later.

Extra: Ballpoint pen.

The planner comes with a slim ballpoint in its loop. It features a twist mechanism, with a refill that seems to be Cross-like.

If you have a Pilot Birdie, it can fit perfectly fine in the planner’s pen loop. You can also force a Pilot GTec through it as well

So, is the paper fountain pen-friendly?

Well, kinda.

Before we get to that, here’s a view of the paper test done with non-nib writing tools, from ballpoints and gel pens to pencils and fine-liners.

And here’s the back portion of that page, next to fountain pen writing samples.

The paper feels like it both absorbs more ink than it should, but without too much feathering. This is evident with the Pilot GTec C3 0.3, which lays down a line that is quite thicker than other paper. There is feathering, however, especially with heavy ink from the thick Pilot Hi-Tecpoint and the Uni Pin for pro.

Pencils work well in general (except for some colors), and erases cleanly too. Except for the dirty part which was erased with the Uni Kuru Toga’s built-in eraser. The rest were erased with HBW 4B eraser.

Here’s what the fountain pen writing samples look from behind.

There’s tolerable ghosting, but evident feathering. Understand though that ink wetness comes into play here, with Pilot Iroshuzuku Fuyu-syogun and Noodler’s Hunter Green having some feathering as well.. While the flex nib writing with Waterman Serenity Blue had minimal feathering, it ghosted badly. Meanwhile, the writing sample from the hawk nib using Robert Oster Caffe Crema behaved relatively well, considering that it was laying down thick lines

The paper showed sheen from Waterman Serenity Blue and Vinta Kosmos. It also presented shimmer from Diamine Golden Sands. But it did kill shading of the Sailor 123, Troublemaker Butanding. We might update this story with ink swabs with glass pens though to confirm this initial finding.

Bleeding is also a major dealbreaker, and it is an issue that isn’t exclusive to fountain pens. Basically, if you’re writing with anything else other than a ballpoint, there’s a lot of guesswork involved.

Pen Noob Verdict

If you prefer fine nibs and have high tolerance for imperfect paper, then you can probably tolerate the writing experience with the Starbucks 2023 planner. This would probably work well as a secondary planner, assuming that your main carry would be a Hobonichi, Traveler’s Notebook, or any other portion that won’t require you to do some guess work with ink performance.

If you’re not a fountain pen user, but plan to get one soon, please take these observations into consideration.

Though if you have no plans of switching to nibs, then there should be no problem for you, Unless you use sign pens like the Pilot Hi-Tecpoint, or love the thin lines from Pilot GTec.

The Starbucks 2023 Planner remains enticing even if the paper it used in the past few years haven’t been exactly the best for the hobby. The coffee brand has been marketing the product, and the sticker-collecting that comes with it, as a tradition for the season. And it works.

While it is clear that this year’s edition is still not ideal for nib folks, there just seems to be something about toffee nut lattes that will make us end up getting 18 cups during the Christmas season without us deliberately meaning to.