coffee: 3 posts

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

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.

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Tom Ford Jardin Noir Cafe Rose : Perfume Review

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After my mixed experience with Lys Fume, I approached the rest of Tom Ford’s Jardin Noir collection reluctantly. As I wore the fragrances  over these past few months, I grew to like them very much, especially Ombre de Hyacinth and Café Rose. While Tom Ford promised that Jardin Noir would be abloom with twisted, dark florals, the collection is neither twisted nor dark. Instead, it features elegant, polished fragrances on four different themes: lily, daffodil, hyacinth, and rose. The lack of drama is a minus, especially given the concept of this quartert, but these interpretations of classical florals are so smooth and refined that they are worth sampling.

Café Rose was created by perfumer Antoine Lie, who also worked on Azure Lime and Violet Blonde for Ford.  It is the darkest perfume from Jardin Noir, but it has a distinctive Middle Eastern flair. The woods are so pronounced that they compete with rose for top billing, while the incense gives the perfume an exotic twist. The main reason I enjoy Café Rose is for its contrast–it feels sophisticated, but at the same time, it has a flamboyant air. Too much elegance can be boring, after all.

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