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!