Pacifica Mexican Cocoa : Perfume Review

Today Andy takes a break from tea and talks  about the aromas of hot chocolate.

With whimsical packaging and fragrances inspired by exotic locales, Pacifica is a brand that makes it easy to fall in love with their perfumes. After all, with such a low price point ($22 for 30ml), the fragrances are hard to resist. The line offers a selection of simple, clean fragrances that are all easy to wear and layer, with generously scented soaps and body butters. There are also solid and rollerball versions of their perfumes, plus scented candles and diffusers for the home. The brand’s aesthetic shies away from being too serious, keeping their scents fresh and fun, lively and bright.

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Even though the fragrances aren’t profound or challenging, I’ve found that Pacifica’s scents are worth trying, because several are of outstanding quality, given the price. My first foray into Pacifica was with Mediterranean Fig, which continues to be one of my favorites from the line. It is a well-made, transparent fig scent that follows a nicely developed progression through all the fragrant elements of the fig tree: leaves, fruit, and branches. Another scent worth trying is Pacifica’s French Lilac, which captures an extremely realistic lilac note with a gentle, milky touch. Nerola Orange Blossom offers a simple, refreshing neroli and orange blossom cologne that smells surprisingly heady and sophisticated. Their Mexican Cocoa is addictive and comforting.

I can easily understand why this perfume is said to be one of Pacifica’s most popular. The inspiration behind Mexican Cocoa is the fragrance of a chocolate beverage that Pacifica founder Brook Harvey-Taylor remembered from a trip to Baja, Mexico. Unlike the hot chocolate traditional in Europe and the United States though, the chocolate beverage referenced in this perfume is a traditional Mexican breakfast drink that also blends in the flavors of vanilla and spices. The result, of course, is a warming cup whose fragrance is worthy of being captured in a perfume. Mexican Cocoa portrays the scent of this spiced hot cocoa in a way that remains light and easy to wear, without feeling too heavy or rich.

Mexican Cocoa starts off on an almond marzipan note, which serves as a bright introduction before the darker, spicier notes that follow. The almond lasts for a few moments, and then segues into a warm blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. Through the spices, a haze of dark sweetness comes through, conjuring an impression of chocolate that grows more apparent as the initial rush of spices fades. In reality, the chocolate impression in this fragrance is mostly the result of a clever combination of milky vanilla, spices, and gentle earthy notes, but it works nonetheless, and ensures that the cocoa note never smells too edible.

I was surprised that this fragrance, though gourmand, isn’t overly sweet. I like that the chocolate note is balanced with spices; it doesn’t leave me smelling like a piece of chocolate candy. This fragrance is warm and cozy, and I frequently reach for this scent when I crave something comforting. And when I’m dreaming of warm hot cocoa and snowflakes once summer comes again, who knows—I might just turn to Mexican Cocoa to take me on an altogether different sort of Pacifica journey.

Mexican Cocoa includes notes of bitter almond, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and Mexican chocolate. Available at Whole Foods and Ulta stores.

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49 Comments

  • Barbara: Thanks for reviewing it! I saw Pacifica candles and perfumes before but never sniffed them. Mediterranean Fig also sounds good. April 11, 2013 at 8:46am Reply

    • Joan: I have their Fig candle and it’s great. It burns cleanly and smells very strong. Too bad Whole Foods closest to me doesn’t carry Pacifica. April 11, 2013 at 9:09am Reply

    • Andy: You’re welcome, Barbara. Definitely give them a sniff the next time you see them. The Mediterranean Fig is probably my favorite from the line. It follows a similar progression to other fig fragrances, but for a fraction of the cost (and it has better longevity than many others from the line. April 11, 2013 at 4:15pm Reply

  • Joan: Does anyone know if they are also sold at Sephora? April 11, 2013 at 9:09am Reply

    • Andy: From what I can see on the website, it seems like they only carry a very small selection of Pacifica now. I know they used to carry a larger selection from the line, but it now has been narrowed down to just two or three of the scents I think. April 11, 2013 at 4:20pm Reply

  • rickyrebarco: Great review. Where does one buy these scents? I am guessing they have their own website. I need to find some cheaper niches- Heeley and Tauer are a bit pricey! Thanks. April 11, 2013 at 9:25am Reply

    • Joan: Here is their website:
      http://www.pacificaperfume.com/

      I hope it’s ok to post it. I promise, I’m not affiliated with this brand, just like it very much. April 11, 2013 at 9:28am Reply

    • Andy: Yes, these are a great deal cheaper than other niche brands. Their scents are also a great deal simpler and more fleeting—but on an average busy weekday, they are perfect to give me a boost of scent without being distracting. April 11, 2013 at 4:24pm Reply

  • Lynne Marie: Thanks for your review, Andy. I’ve always sort of dismissed Pacifica fragrances but Mexican Cocoa sounds interesting! April 11, 2013 at 9:26am Reply

    • Andy: Mexican Cocoa is definitely one of the more interesting ones from Pacifica. Some of their fragrances, like Hawaiian Ruby Guava and Island Vanilla, are too sweet and flirty to be enjoyable for me, but even those are nicely done in their own right. Mexican Cocoa is one of their hidden gems in my opinion though. One of the main complaints about Pacifica is the longevity of their scents, but this one lasts all day on me. And this past winter, it was a staple on cold days! April 11, 2013 at 4:33pm Reply

  • Rachel: It’s refreshing to find a nice perfume at such a low price! I haven’t tried Mexican Cocoa yet. However I love French Lilac. It’s not En Passant but it smells pretty darn good. April 11, 2013 at 10:49am Reply

    • Andy: Yes, I find that most of these offer decent quality considering the low price tag. And I agree, French lilac is great. I don’t have it right now, but I remember it well because I was struck by the accuracy of the note to the flower. Side by side, the perfume probably smells much sweeter and less nuanced than the actual flower, but it does a good job, considering that there aren’t too many lilac soliflore type scents on the market. April 11, 2013 at 4:38pm Reply

  • mridula: I have the Mediterranean Fig, which is lovely. It is sharp and bitter and sweet. I have it in the purse sized wand and the Mexican Cocoa in a solid. I use the solid almost like a balm for my hand and everything smells like heaven for a few minutes. So here’s the disappointment with their line – almost zero longevity. But its a moment of pleasure I can reach for in my purse without burning a hole in the purse in the process. Other justification: I am as likely to forget I am wearing the expensive perfume with the amazing longevity, forgetting except for when that whiff of pleasure wafts my way and every hour or so and how different is that from reaching into my purse. April 11, 2013 at 11:00am Reply

    • Andy: That is a great point, mridula. I find that, especially on weekdays, it is a waste for me to use any fragrance that is very complex or expensive. Oftentimes, I am so focused on other things that I forget about the scent except for when I catch those whiffs you’ve mentioned. And then I feel like it’s a bit of a waste.

      Pacifica scents aren’t known for their longevity, but amazingly, on my skin most of them last for the entire day without reapplication. I guess that’s another reason I like them so much, since they tend to stick around for me, but aren’t too strong. Given the price though, if I did need to reapply, I wouldn’t be upset either. April 11, 2013 at 4:48pm Reply

  • Marsi: Their candles are marvelous, a very good value. Such good throw. April 11, 2013 at 11:41am Reply

    • Andy: Oh yes, I love the candles! I haven’t tried many of the candles, but the few I have were really nice. April 11, 2013 at 4:50pm Reply

  • nikki: I also like the line….and it is sold at the whole foods store here. It is fun, especially the tins with solid perfume! I like the Cacao one as well…will try the candles, thanks for the link! April 11, 2013 at 12:14pm Reply

    • Andy: I like the solids too. I know solid perfumes aren’t very popular, but I’ve grown to like them very much ever since I started using the Pacifica ones. In some of the Pacifica scents, I find that the solid and liquid forms of the perfume smell entirely different. I haven’t tried the Mexican Cocoa solid so far, though I love the solid versions of Tuscan Blood Orange and California Star Jasmine. April 11, 2013 at 4:54pm Reply

  • Absolute Scentualist: Mexican Cocoa is one of my recent favorites as well. I’ve been on a fun journey of discovery with Pacifica after picking up an Italian Blood Orange set around the holidays last year on a whim. They’ve got a lot of lovely fragrances from fruity to spicy (agreed that their French Lilac is just gorgeous), are very reasonably priced and perfect for those moods when I can’t decide what to wear. Lovers of jasmine should track down their Tunisian Jasmine (I haven’t tried their current jasmine offering) as it’s amazingly indolic and heady with good lasting power, and is blended with a tiny touch of almond to keep it interesting. Much more floral and less candied than Bvlgari Jasmine Noir and can be found for a song. Their bath and body products are also very good quality, highly fragranced and my skin just loves them. 🙂 April 11, 2013 at 12:38pm Reply

    • Andy: I agree, these are great for those times when you don’t know what fragrance to choose. Especially given their variety, as you’ve mentioned, it’s easy to collect a few perfumes without spending too much.

      Dissapointingly, they discontinued Tunisian Jasmine, which I had wanted to try, before I had a chance. However, the California Star Jasmine, which they currently sell, is a very nice fresh and citrusy jasmine, especially refreshing on a hot day. April 11, 2013 at 5:00pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: Hi Andy,

    As with the rest of BdJ’s comments the candles particularly in the Mexican Chocolate are reasonably priced, burn clean with a good throw and lingers in the air long after the candle has been extinguished. And yes, the Jasmin is a good one (body product). Long lasting too! April 11, 2013 at 12:57pm Reply

    • Andy: I haven’t tried the candle in this scent yet, but I’ll have to soon. Judging by the perfume, I think Mexican Cocoa would be an especially comforting scent wafting through the air. April 11, 2013 at 5:05pm Reply

  • Heather: I’ve just ordered some French Lilac to try. I’m excited to hear that it’s pretty good, because I’d love to have a lilac scent inexpensive enough to spray on my sheets in the spring. Has anyone tried their solid perfumes? April 11, 2013 at 1:04pm Reply

    • Andy: Yes, French Lilac is a very good, simple rendition of a lilac note. Now that sounds really appealing, the idea of falling asleep with lilac scented sheets!

      I have tried their solid perfumes, and while they don’t carry much longevity, I do think they are nice. They do however, depending on the scent, vary widely from the liquid versions. In some cases a good thing, in some not. April 11, 2013 at 5:09pm Reply

  • Katy McReynolds: I love Pacifica Waikiki Pikake, a solid little jasmine soliflore. I bought mine at Whole Foods. The Tunisian Jasmine bar soap was to die for. Every time someone showered with it, it wafted enticingly out of the bathroom! The Wakiki Pikake is beautiful layered with Zirh Ikon. Kevin, of Now Smell This, recommended layering this masculine with Rose and Jasmine soliflores, and it is excellent advice! April 11, 2013 at 3:33pm Reply

    • Andy: Waikiki Pikake is very nice. I like it a little less than the California Star Jasmine, but enjoy it nonetheless. Your comment also reminded me of another great point, that Pacifica scents are perfect for layering, given that most of them are fairly linear, single note blends! Your combination sounds stunning! April 11, 2013 at 5:12pm Reply

  • Jennifer: Pacifica does some pretty solid stuff for the price. Mediterranean Fig is overall my favorite and so far the only one I own in a spray. I have Mexican Cocoa in the solid, and I got it along with the Spanish Amber solid because I liked how they smelled together. At $8 a pop, why not? The cocoa also combines nicely with the Persian Rose solid (and the spray too, but I like the solid better because the lemon top notes aren’t as strong). I haven’t seen the Tunisian Jasmine at any stores around here, but I want to track it down. I like a good indolic jasmine. I tried California Star Jasmine, and while it’s nice, it didn’t really do it for me. Tahitian Gardenia is nice as well, but not quite the gardenia I want. April 11, 2013 at 4:24pm Reply

    • Andy: Mediterranean Fig and Spanish Amber are favorites of mine as well. It is great how easy Pacifica scents are to mix and match. I’ve layered Mexican Cocoa with florals just as you’ve described (in my case, with Tahitian Gardenia) and was surprised how appealing the combination was. The Persian Rose combined with Mexican Cocoa sounds even better! I too really want to try the Tunisian Jasmine. I’m still disappointed I never got the chance to sniff before it was discontinued. April 11, 2013 at 5:15pm Reply

  • Jo: I’m really pleased to see a review for a Pacifica scent, they’re a great simple line. French Lilac is one of my favourites, along with Lotus Garden and Waikiki Pikake 🙂 April 11, 2013 at 5:46pm Reply

    • Andy: I love all three of those fragrances you mentioned. For me, Lotus Garden is perhaps the most wearable, as it just kind of comes off as a hazy, slightly floral grapefruit and mango scent. French lilac is probably my favorite of the three though, simply because it conjures the flower so accurately. April 11, 2013 at 7:10pm Reply

  • Cheryl: Great to see some love for this line! I’m a big fan of their bath products, for both smelling great and being sulfate free, not to mention the sensible prices. Between their blood orange, lilac and fig scents, I can’t really pick a favorite. April 11, 2013 at 5:53pm Reply

    • Andy: I love the bath products too! A few months ago, the body washes (in travel sizes) started showing up at my local Marshall’s, and I snatched them up in all the different scents they had available (Tahitian Gardenia, Indian Coconut Nectar, Tuscan Blood Orange, and Hawaiian Ruby Guava). My only complaint with their bath and body products is that they don’t offer the same products in every scent. They have body butter, body wash, and the soaps for the more popular scents, but some of the others are only available in one or two forms. I would especially love their body butter in Spanish Amber, but they don’t offer it anymore.

      The Tuscan Blood Orange, French Lilac, and Mediterranean Fig are some of my favorites too! April 11, 2013 at 7:17pm Reply

  • minette: i really like this line. i have several of the perfumes and candles, and the body butters are delicious. and if you bathe with the california star jasmine soap, you will crave jasmine all day long! April 11, 2013 at 8:16pm Reply

    • Andy: I bet! I haven’t tried the California Star Jasmine soap yet, but knowing that scent, I can totally agree that it’s quite addictive! April 11, 2013 at 8:33pm Reply

  • Ann: I love buying 10 Pacifica soaps at once and getting the shipping for free (or at least it was free that last few times I did it! I think you have to spend over $50) Because you can buy so many of their scents on one online shopping trip. I don’t much care for the perfume, spray or solid, or their candles… but the soaps and body butters are really fun, for not much dough. Pacifica products make great gifts because they are packaged so nicely as well. My soap favorites are the French Lilac, Persian Rose, Waikiki Pikaki, Tahitian Gardenia… and I haven’t tried it yet but I’ve been box sniffing the Indian Coconut Nectar. I wouldn’t want to smell like these all day… but they make a welcoming burst loveliness in the morning shower. And at $1 an ounce, as my Scotch rellies would say–canny wack it! April 11, 2013 at 8:56pm Reply

    • Andy: The soaps are really fantastic. I haven’t tried all their soaps, but those I have tried were great. For gifting, I agree that these perfect, since they come in such eye-catching boxes and aren’t too pricey. April 12, 2013 at 5:31am Reply

  • Susan: I too love the Mediterranean Fig. I also reach for Island Vanilla frequently. It’s a pure, beautiful vanilla that ranks right up there with some of my niche fave. It’s not too gourmand or boozy. Just right. April 11, 2013 at 11:31pm Reply

    • Andy: I think I need to give Island Vanilla another chance now. I have only smelled it before in the body butter format, where I found it very sweet, but somewhat appealing. Since a lot of Pacifica scents smell different from product type to product type (the difference between Mediterranean Fig spray and solid is especially apparent), I’m wondering if I might find the spray perfume better. April 12, 2013 at 5:35am Reply

  • Lorna: Andy, thank you for the review. It is autumn here in Australia, and as I am hard up at the moment I was feeling down about not being able to afford a new cool weather scent. Your lovely review intrigued me, so I searched for the Mexican Cocoa online and bought a bottle for a very reasonable 15 Australian Dollars. This has cheered me up no end! April 12, 2013 at 12:03am Reply

    • Andy: That’s what I love about these scents–they are so easy to enjoy and don’t break the bank. If you’ve never tried Pacifica before, Mexican Cocoa will be an excellent introduction to the line. And based on my experience this past fall and winter where I live, Mexican Cocoa is perfect for cool weather. I hope you enjoy your new perfume! April 12, 2013 at 5:39am Reply

  • patricia: call me old fashioned.. ! But I have never wanted to smell like a food even tho I have complete fondness of chocolate. Flowers, inscense, forests yes. I know Shalimar has some vanilla accents but classic long lasting well crafted perfumes…much more interesting and long lasting. April 12, 2013 at 2:47am Reply

    • Andy: I understand the way you feel. Anything that smells too food like is usually a no-go for me too, but I was surprised by this one, since it doesn’t really smell edible. And you’re very right, Mexican Cocoa is no Shalimar!

      Mexican Cocoa isn’t particularly long lasting or complex, but for a weekday, it is enough of a burst of scent to keep me satisfied without feeling overwhelmed or too engrossed in the perfume I’m wearing that day. April 12, 2013 at 5:48am Reply

  • Dionne: I haven’t tried Mexican Cocoa from the line, but I own Tuscan Blood Orange and Tibetan Mountain Temple from the line and really enjoy them. My only wish is that they’d start making lids for the perfumes, I think it’d make them look more “finished.” April 13, 2013 at 10:27am Reply

    • Andy: I agree on the lids. It surprises me that they have never made lids for the bottles, because I know it is a common complaint about their bottle design. April 13, 2013 at 10:42am Reply

  • Sandra: I discovered Pacifica candles years ago back when they came with a label on the glass and no box! They used to have some really lovely scents that they discontinued… Pacific Red Ginger, Moroccan Chamomile Apple Blossom, Wild English Clary Sage and Vietnamese Ylang Ylang French Lavender. I suspect they may not have sold as well but seeing as the line looks like it has grown in popularity perhaps they should bring them back to see how well they would do now. These were unique and unusual scents compared to some of the overly sweet, fruity ones they currently offer. I am impressed with the accuracy of some of their perfumes particularly the French Lilac and Thai Lemongrass. Great job! April 13, 2013 at 12:39pm Reply

  • Andy: I did not know about some of these discontinued scents from Pacifica. Pacific Red Ginger sounds really appealing! I agree that it would be great if they brought back some past scents. Even now, the company continues to decrease their range. I’ve heard they are discontinuing Nerola Orange Blossom next, which is an incredible shame. Already they seem to keep paring down their line to all but the fruitiest and sweetest scents, eliminating some real gems along the way. April 14, 2013 at 9:00am Reply

    • Sandra: Hi Andy – that’s too bad about Nerola being discontinued and the paring down of the line in general. The scents I mentioned were the ones I particularly liked… there were actually even more… Indochine comes to mind as another that they stopped making. One would think that the company would want to sway from the fruity/sweet/vanilla based products so easily available from other lines and offer unusual and sophisticated combinations while keeping them more affordable than some of the high end companies selling similar products. I guess fruity/sweet/mainstream is what sells. I prefer mysterious and haunting! April 21, 2013 at 10:55am Reply

      • Andy: I prefer mysterious and haunting too, though I will settle for something fun and light as long as it’s not too sweet or fruity! I agree, one would think that the company would use their position as a quirky, out of the way sort of company to sell products that are really different from the mainstream, but I guess it just didn’t work as well for them profit-wise. As simple as their scents are, it is still a little sad to see some of them going away. April 21, 2013 at 8:12pm Reply

  • Julie: I had never seen this review on Pacifica…
    I just sent my husband’s daughter some Tibetan Mountain Temple soap, candle & perfume also some body wash in the Sandalwood along with a body butter for her birthday. She enjoys patchouli scents, it sounds like a winner! Because they are vegan products I was thrilled to purchase from them. I also included a pretty lip gloss…They seem to have a wide range of products including nail polish too. I am hoping she is pleased when it arrives. 🙂 May 5, 2016 at 10:11am Reply

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