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Monday, September 26, 2005

Coffee Scents: A Story with a Happy Ending


Contender No. 1. Hippie Latte: Comme des Garcons Series 7: Sweet – Wood Coffee

Notes: cardamom, liquorice, chinese ginger, almond, coffee essence, wood, indonesian patchouli, vanilla.

Wood Coffee was the first coffee scent I tried, and, it being Comme des Garcons, I expected something striking. Alas, I was disappointed. I did not encounter much wood, and even though there was plenty of coffee, it was not the coffee of the Turkish proverb, "black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love." Rather, Wood Coffee is a diluted, cold latte and I don't mean intentionally cold as in some fancy Starbucks creation, but rather as in “forgotten in a mug and gone cold and stale”. To make the matters worse, in the drydown, patchouli reared its ugly head demoting Wood Coffee from the status of unremarkable to almost unwearable.

Contender No. 2. Politically Correct: Jo Malone – Black Vetyver Café

Notes: coffee, vetiver, temple incense and sequoia.

Black Vetyver Café was allegedly born from Jo Malone’s passion to create the perfect coffee note. I have a passion to find a perfect coffee scent, so there seemed to be a great chance that I would love this. And I don’t dislike it, but…as Ernest Hemingway said, “But did thee feel the earth move?” I did not.
This is a big improvement on the stale, cold, patchouli leaden Wood Coffe. However, if, like me, you a crave a rich, dark, sensual coffee scent, this is not it. Black Vetyver cafe is a very neutral fragrance, civilized, elegant, appropriate anywhere...It is very wearable and actually even full-bottle worthy for me, but…this is not It.

Contender No. 3. “The Spirit of the Unexpected”: Bond No 9 – New Haarlem

Notes: coffee, vanilla, patchouli.

How I love the beginning of this fragrance. It is dark, sexy, sweet and very recognizably “coffee”. Very hip, very sophisticated, and, at that point, very wearable. Unfortunately, that is not where the story ends. Memories evoked by scents can be a wonderful thing and enhance one’s love for a new fragrance; they also can be a curse. In this case it is not a bad memory that New Haarlem brings to mind, it is simply that, sometime during the drydown, the scent becomes, to my nose, a fragrance a person from my past used to wear, and I simply cannot get over that and enjoy New Haarlem. I feel that I am wearing another person’s skin so to say. The scent it reminded me of is Route 66, created in 1995 by Coty, which, for those unfamiliar with it, is a tobacco-woody-ambery fragrance. Damn be the tricks of olfactory memory. Memories aside, a masculine cologne drydown is simply not among the characteristic a coffee scent has to possess, in order to come close to the ideal I have in mind.

Contender No. 4. Holy Grail Alert! Dawn Spencer Hurwitz – Coffee Absolut

Notes: coffee absolute.

Wowza! My search for a perfect coffee scent ends here (for now, that is, since a perfumista's job is never done). It is hard to imagine that there can be anything more coffee-like, apart from the coffee itself. From the dark colour of the liquid to the incredible scent, this is it, black, strong and sweet. I don’t know how she did it, the notes on her site don't disclose much, but DSH somehow created that elusive ideal coffee scent I was looking for. Wood Coffee? Purleeze! Black Vetyver Café? Laughable. New Haarlem? Sorry, not even close.
A side note for other incorrigible layerers out there. I accidentally layered Coffee Absolut with Bourbon French Romanov (a sweet rose scent) and the result is incredible, I have a feeling this DSH creation would bring a certain stunning dark undertone to many a scent.

Know of more coffee scents? Please send your recommendations!

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17 Comments:

Blogger boisdejasmin said...

Marinochka, fantastic reviews! I have been meaning to try these fragrances (other than New Haarlem, which I tried and loved, although I agree--it is not what you are looking for). A cup of nice coffee is a great treat indeed.
Zamechatel'no!

12:46 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Vikochka, spasibo! I think, if you don't mind patchouli, all of these scents are rather nice. My main problem with coffee scents is that there is always so much patchouli in the mix.

8:54 AM EDT  
Blogger ParisLondres said...

Great reviews.

I love to drink good coffee but I cannot say I love coffee in fragrances except a jolt from time to time.
There was a time a few years ago when I really loved coffee scented candles - now they make my heart palpitate. :(

Thanks for the series of reviews. :)

Have a great day!

8:55 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Thank you, N.! I couldn't wear coffee scents often, but sometimes I want a jolt, as you said. The same with real coffee, I am not really that much of a fan, but I need my one cup in the morning :-)

9:02 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Agree wholeheartedly on CdG Wood Coffee. The whole sweet series was a major disappointment. The JM is a "close but no cigar" for me -- it is nice, but needs to be deeper (more vetiver, more coffee) to be FBW in my book. Will have to get a sample of the DSH!

10:06 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I am so glad you agree, R.! :-) And yes, BVC is pleasant, but is lacking a certain "oomph". New Haarlem does have an oomph, but it is a wrong kind of oomph as far as I am concerned.

10:10 AM EDT  
Blogger katiedid said...

I have tried not a one of these! Thanks for laying out the case for and against them... I loved reading these descriptions. But, and I am not sure if you intended this or not, now I kind of want to go find Route 66. Just to know for myself, too.

My only coffee scent is L'or de Torrente which I like quite a bit. It's got this tarty tangerine in the mix of creamy vanillic coffe that I think is really refreshing.

5:27 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Ah, "the spirit of unexpected"...I wonder if it is discontinued, I saw it online somewhere

5:38 PM EDT  
Blogger nonnka said...

I am sticking to drinking my lattes, but it would be fun to try out some of these...I did not even realize that there were that many coffee perfumes...

10:18 PM EDT  
Blogger slave2love said...

Really interesting read, thanks! (Why use Patchouli, I wonder?)
It's just occured to me that maybe a Turkish Coffee scent could good- with- Cardamon: that being a great and underused note in perfumery, IMO.

11:13 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I am wondering too re: patchouli and coffee scents. Perhaps it is thought to bring a certain darkness and depth into the composition...my problem is that, on my skin, patchouli overshadows any other notes.
Cardamom is a great idea, perhaps there is a scent already that combines these notes...must research!

11:53 PM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

Rather late to this party - have you tried L'Artisan L'eau de navigateur?

9:05 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Tigs,
I *know* I have, but I cannot remember it. It was a long time ago. Is it good? Should I re-try?

10:04 PM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

Well, *I* like it. I am currently trying to decide whether it is full-bottle worthy. (Those big honkin' L'Artisan bottles...) Very woody, so if you're just looking for full-on coffee, it won't work. I'd say try it anyways, it's a fun one regardless. Less foody than New Haarlem.

12:19 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

It sounds great! Will re-try. Thank you very much for the heads up!

8:18 AM EDT  
Anonymous Karin said...

I agree with the DSH scent. I ordered a sample a year or so ago, and it is perfect. Very rich and coffee-y.

8:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

where can i actually buy any of these perfumes? ):

8:18 AM EDT  

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