Best Perfumes with Coffee Notes

Merry Christmas! I hope that all of you had a wonderful holiday and are enjoying the seasonal festivities as well as moments of rest with a good book and a cup of tea or coffee. Speaking of which, coffee is the topic of my recent FT column, Perfumes with Coffee Notes. I talk about the reasons why perfumers find this note difficult, how it can be used in fragrances and what perfumes showcase it to its advantage. From Arquiste Nanban to Atelier Cologne Café Tuberosa, I cover my favorite compositions.

“Coffee notes, for all of their complexity and addictive richness, are complicated to use. The solution is to approach coffee notes creatively. Instead of mimicking nature, a perfumer instead might fashion a blend that hints at coffee’s pleasing bitterness and heady richness. Such is Arquiste’s Nanban. The composition uses a plush backdrop of woods to frame the smoky, spicy notes of myrrh and incense, with an accent of coffee to lend the composition a dark, delicious twist. It teases with its smoky, nutty warmth, but keeps its presence mellow behind layers of sandalwood and leather. To continue, please click here.”

As always, I’d love to hear about the coffee perfumes you like.

Image: Atelier Cologne



  • rosarita: As always, I enjoyed your article, V. I have a couple coffee scents to add: Bond 9 New Haarlem, with it’s coffee and dark patchouli, and Zoologist Civet, with coffee and tuberose. I have never been able to wear tuberose, I appreciate Fracas and Carnal Flower on others but my skin turns them into cheap air freshener that I can’t scrub off fast enough, but Civet is fabulous on me. I would like to try Kerosene Follow, which is coffee with cream from what I’ve read, but it’s out of my price range (the bottles are beautiful but I really wish Kerosene would release travel size, plain bottles at a lower price point. Of course, I wish that for all perfumes.) December 25, 2017 at 9:32am Reply

    • Karen A: Ohh, glad to see another Civet fan! It’s stunning, isn’t it! On eaumg, Victoria (my “other” Victoria) wrote something like, Civet smells like the woman she wishes she was.

      If you like Civet, I just discovered Smolderose by January Scent Project and you might enjoy it, too. His sample pack is gorgeously packaged and fragrances are very well done. Smolderose has that same depth and lushness that Civet has, although notes are different. December 25, 2017 at 10:45am Reply

  • Hypnotist Collector: I live DSH Caffe Noir – although i recently bought a bottle after having only a sample, and this edition is so strong that I have to be very, very careful to put on the smallest amount. It’s gorgeous, though, and warm, perfect for winter in the right amount. December 25, 2017 at 10:27am Reply

    • Hypnotist Collector: *love December 25, 2017 at 10:28am Reply

  • Kandice: After your first review of Cafe Tuberosa, I wanted to try it but was also a little hesitant due to the inclusion of patchouli. And when I went to Sephora and smelled it on paper, I was absolutely certain it wouldn’t work for me. But I requested a sample size to take home. And once I sprayed it on me, I fell in love. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I am so glad you reviewed it which gave me the impetus to try it. It’s my new favorite scent! December 25, 2017 at 1:32pm Reply

  • WildDove: YSL Black Opium, TM Pure Coffee, by Kilian Black Phantom, and Montale Intense Café (though I don’t really get much, if any, coffee in this last one). December 25, 2017 at 2:19pm Reply

  • Rita: Hi
    I hope you had a great Christmas as well. You know I don’t think I have ever smelt a coffee scent in a perfume✨
    I will have to do that and try some smell at the shops today, great artical as per usual.
    Silly question but are you on YouTube at all? December 26, 2017 at 5:28am Reply

  • Floragal: Glad to see this post. I’ve been on a hunt for the perfect coffee scented perfume but have yet to discover it.
    Cafe Tuberosa did not work for me. I found the opening to be wonderful and coffee rich but it quickly moved away to the floral notes and it got all weird on me.
    I recently tried Lush’s Cardamon Coffee which dries down to a gorgeous, slightly sweet coffee and spice scent. I may pull the trigger on this one, but still exploring what else is out there. December 26, 2017 at 10:23am Reply

  • Aurora: This has been a lovely Xmas, hope yours was wonderful, I am enjoying Boxing Day and catching up by reading your two latest posts. What an original articles, I am afraid of the tuberose in the Atelier Cologne perfume but have always thought the coffee note in Noa is part of its cosy appeal. December 26, 2017 at 10:51am Reply

    • SoSuSam: @aurora If you get a chance, you might take the risk of trying Cafe Tuberose. I don’t like tuberose but found their treatment of it actually pleasant. (In other words, the tuberose doesn’t stand out.) December 26, 2017 at 1:16pm Reply

  • Severine: Hi! Merry Christmas! I need some serious convincing that smelling like something edible like coffee or chocolate or sugar won’t make me a victim of someone’s cannibalistic fantasies!
    I am curious as to what image or stimulus is evoked by gourmands. Obviously people love them. Indulgence? I would love it if gourmand lovers help me out here and tell me what they really like about such scents. December 26, 2017 at 12:28pm Reply

    • hajusuuri: Sweet gourmands = cozy
      Savory gourmands = Hannibal Lechter’s entree, so a big NO! December 26, 2017 at 12:40pm Reply

    • Kandice: For me, it’s comfort, warmth, and coziness. I think the sweeter gourmands remind me of baking with my mom when I was little and all the holidays spent with family and loved ones. December 27, 2017 at 7:03am Reply

    • Victoria: None of these coffee scents are gourmands in a true sense. They’re more like perfumes with coffee notes. But as for gourmands, there are several reasons they’re appealing–they tease your senses. Many say that they don’t wear a perfume to smell of something (which means that you’re wearing it for others), but to smell something you like (being surrounded by a favorite aroma.) For moments when I want something cuddly and indulgent, gourmands are perfect. But I prefer mine to be less sweet and more abstract. I also like salty notes in gourmands. If anyone wants, I can compile a list of favorites. January 1, 2018 at 3:49am Reply

      • Severine: Wear perfume for self, not for others. – that’s my new year’s motto! January 3, 2018 at 7:52pm Reply

  • SoSuSam: What a wonderful article. Your writing is so beautiful and evocative. I surprised myself by liking Cafe Tuberosa. I received an advance sample from Colognes Atelier before it was available and almost tossed it in the trash because I loathe tuberose. But I tried it (I’ll try anything with a coffee note!)–and really liked it. Liked it enough that I ordered the smallest bottle. And I continue to appreciate how creamy and unusual and–as you said–intoxicating it is. I’m intrigued by your conclusion about the patchouli in it; I’m going to spray some on now and give that some thought. Happy holidays to you! December 26, 2017 at 1:14pm Reply

  • Tara C: I really like Café Tuberosa. The initial coffee blast was a shocker, but the floral drydown is lovely. It’s a compliment-getter for me. December 27, 2017 at 10:57pm Reply

  • spe: Hmm, well it appears that I don’t do well with coffee notes in perfume. Which is odd, because I like the smell of coffee beans and brewing coffee. Definitely need to try the coffee tuberose scent. December 28, 2017 at 4:13pm Reply

  • spe: Happy fourth day of Christmas everyone! December 28, 2017 at 4:55pm Reply

  • Silvermoon: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

    Victoria, your article has convinced me that i must try Cafe Tuberosa. I loved your images of magic – trick and illusion. I also was intrigued by Santal Nobile. I have one of the Arquiste perfumes – Anima Dulcis (a chocolate note based perfume, which is comforting and animalic at same time) – looks like they like to do interesting gourmands. December 29, 2017 at 6:16am Reply

  • Ines: I really must try Cafe Tuberosa – alas – I just purchased a large bottle of Aoud Cafe by Mancera. I love coffee and was convinced I am going to love this, but I don’t unfortunately.

    I do love the Montale Intense Cafe, but I don’t get a lot of coffee in this one either.

    All best wishes for the New Year to everyone. December 29, 2017 at 10:00am Reply

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