Atelier Cologne Café Tuberosa : Perfume Review

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I sometimes notice that coffee smells better than it tastes–or that it doesn’t taste the way it smells.  Even the aroma of coffee, for instance, is difficult to sum up–sweet, bitter, spicy, acidic, toasted, burned, with hints of blackcurrants, chocolate and hazelnuts. Even more difficult is to render coffee notes believable in a perfume without making one smell like a badly washed coffee mug, or worse, a piece of grilled meat. Coffee notes are stubborn. I’ve been on a search for successful coffee perfumes for a while, and this fall I’m adding a new contender to my collection, Atelier Cologne Café Tuberosa.

The idea behind Café Tuberosa is clever–take a creamy tuberose accord, brighten it with bergamot and give it a bittersweet rush with coffee. All three are bold, strong notes, but the whole fits together so harmoniously that it makes me wonder why this motif is not more explored.

Coffee is not a minor star in the perfume. Its vapors rise all the way to the citrusy top notes that for a moment give me the impression of biting into toast slathered with bergamot marmalade, with bitterness and sweetness so interlaced that one can’t tell them apart. The tuberose feels demure at first, or at least as demure as this drama queen of a flower is capable of appearing, and later it makes its presence felt by its characteristic coconut milk creaminess. Paired with the roasted, nutty notes of coffee, it smells deliciously decadent.

As Café Tuberosa dries down, it balances between an exotic floral and an abstract gourmand, tantalizingly shifting from one impression to another. The woody, spicy notes become more pronounced as the perfume enters its last stages, in which it lingers for hours, and it keeps delivering its hit of coffee.

Café Tuberosa takes its Arabica unsweetened, however. The effect is at once sumptuous and elegant, especially since the composition remains radiant and airy like a true cologne, though its presence is far more substantial. It seemed paradoxical until I realized that the secret of Café Tuberosa is in the generous dose of patchouli. The essence of a leaf that smells like wood plays another trick by conjuring up the coffee bean.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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22 Comments

  • Kandice: Thank you for reviewing this, Victoria. I’ve been wondering about this fragrance since I heard it was being released. The combination of tuberose and coffee sounds like it could go horrendously wrong or be truly inspired. Based on your review, I’ll have to order a sample to try 🙂 October 20, 2017 at 8:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Honestly, I was a bit worried applying it on my skin. 🙂 But it was completely different from what I anticipated and turned out to be really good, and the addition of patchouli pulls the whole thing together. October 20, 2017 at 9:16am Reply

      • Kandice: Does the patchouli smell strongly of patchouli or does it blend in? I’m not a huge patch fan. Thanks. October 20, 2017 at 11:45am Reply

        • Victoria: It’s quite pronounced to me, so I’d say that it may be too much for someone who doesn’t like it at all. October 20, 2017 at 11:55am Reply

          • Kandice: OK. Thanks so much! Will probably still get a sample to try but will be VERY careful applying at first 🙂 October 20, 2017 at 12:23pm Reply

  • Karen A: Ohhh, this sounds really nice! Definitely worth trying. And you hit the nail on the head with the smell of coffee often being better than the taste! October 20, 2017 at 10:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I love to open a bag of coffee beans and just inhale their scent. October 20, 2017 at 10:59am Reply

      • Megan: Yes! Sometimes I feel like I’ve developed a Pavlovian response to coffee, and even just the smell of the beans is energizing. October 21, 2017 at 7:45am Reply

  • Alicia: Oh, thank you, Victoria! I have been thinking of a perfume with a noticeable coffee note for a long time now. And here it is. My dream comes true. October 20, 2017 at 11:57am Reply

  • MmkinPA: I keep spraying this when I stop in Sephora- the only place near me that carries the line. I love the opening, the hit of coffee is great. Not so sure about the drydown yet, something quite unusual about it on my skin. Definitely worth a try for coffee lovers. One of my favorite things is the smell of the car when I’m driving home with my husband’s freshly ground beans. (No, can’t get him to grind at home each day!) October 20, 2017 at 11:58am Reply

  • Elisa: Mmm! This sounds so good. Makes me think of espresso with a lemon peel garnish. I’ve also heard of people combining iced coffee with lemonade though I have not actually tried it. October 20, 2017 at 12:38pm Reply

  • Lucasai: Cafe Tuberosa didn’t really work for me.
    I hate the smell of coffee and despite The fact that I mostly got bitter chocolate from this perfume, it didn’t help.
    I passed my decant to someone else October 20, 2017 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Sylvie: Thank you for reviewing this. I got a sample at Sephora recently and have been testing it, surprised by how much I like it. If anyone has suggestions for other coffee-flower combination scents, i’d be grateful. (On some level this reminds me of Jasmin et cigarette, which I also like very much.) October 20, 2017 at 5:13pm Reply

    • AnneMarie: You might want to check out Cafe Rose by Tom Ford. It does what it says on the bottle. I get mainly a very fruity rose, syrupy coffee, and some patchouli. It’s a bit much for me, but I’m sure some would love it. October 20, 2017 at 5:25pm Reply

      • Sylvie: Thank you, I will sample it. October 27, 2017 at 12:54pm Reply

  • elisa p: Coffee is one of my favorite smells and if I’m wearing perfume while simultaneously brewing coffee, the mingling of the 2 is sublime with almost anything I’m wearing. I loved the coffee note in CT on first spraying and was surprised how true it smelled and how long it held out. I usually expect coffee notes to smell like flavored coffee creamers. But for some reason I found the whole thing cloying after an hour and had to scrub it 🙁 Maybe I don’t want to smell like coffee as much as I think I do. October 20, 2017 at 10:39pm Reply

  • Filomena: I love the smell of coffee. I have a couple of fragrances that have coffee in their composition but not exactly the aroma of coffee beans. I know lots of people who love the smell of coffee but not the taste. As for me, I love both–except I am very particular about my brand of coffee and alsoI prefer strong Italian or French coffee. October 20, 2017 at 11:31pm Reply

  • Notturno7: Beautiful review as always, Victoria!
    You’re very gifted. I can’t wait for your book one day, I hope 😊 October 20, 2017 at 11:47pm Reply

  • spe: Well, this line just doesn’t work with my chemistry, unfortunately. Despite that, I do enjoy reading the reviews. Thank you. October 21, 2017 at 10:23am Reply

  • Carla: This sounds so interesting. I wonder who the perfumer is. Your description is excellent as usual; I can imagine it. I’ll have to get a sample. I’m not a fan of coffee notes but I may like this. Nuit de Tubéreuse has been my go-to scent of late so I may take to this other way with tuberose. October 21, 2017 at 4:21pm Reply

  • Michael: Thanks for the interesting review, Victoria! One of my favourite coffee based fragrances is the (now sadly discontinued) Jo Malone Stephanotis & Cassia Coffee Cologne, a wonderful fusion of heady lilies and bitter coffee. Jo says it was inspired by a visit to Manhattan grocer Dean & De Luca, where she caught the smell of coffee beans in a bag placed next to a vase of Stephanotis lilies. Jo Malone also produced a Vetyverio Cafe Cologne, which I think has also been discontinued. So difficult to find nice fragrances with coffee as a main ingredient. I also love the smell of freshly brewed espresso. October 22, 2017 at 12:15am Reply

  • Aurora: I belong to the club of those enjoying more the aroma and the ritual around coffee than the actual drinking of it (more of a tea person) but enjoy coffee in perfume and what a lovely review this is. I am a little afraid of the tuberose in it but perhaps it is rather tame, you describe it as creamy and this does appeal.
    I love Noa with its coffee note. October 22, 2017 at 11:40am Reply

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