Why do we use coffee beans in perfumery shops?

There are many of us for whom a day cannot start  without a good coffee. Sometimes, its fragrance is what helps us gett out of bed. It tickles our nostrils and predicts a beautiful day. 

Coffee is also known for its effects against headaches, tiredness or bout of depression. So, why coffee beans are appeared in perfumeries since a couple of year ago? 

The sellers invite us to smell them to “clear out” our nose after smelling several perfumes. Do you really think it works? Since when do coffee beans got a cleaning function? 

The experience that explains everything about coffee beans in perfumery

I have always been unconvinced about the ability of coffee beans to reset our nose. The mechanism of olfaction as well as our brain’s odor alert function make me quite skeptical about coffee.  

Nevertheless, I like to be surprised by science, the power of plants and their chemical compositions so I wanted a scientific answer to justify or not this use. 

I searched for a long time. I finally found results from the United States research… 

In 2011, 3 researchers have made the following the experience :

A panel smells 3 perfumes several times  to saturate their sense of smell. It is then divided into 3 groups. The first will smell like air, the second will smell coffee beans and the third one citrus slices. 

Then, they must smell 4 perfumes and indicate  the scent that is not part of the starting trio. Which group has best identified this new fragrance? I know you are waiting for the results with impatience… Here they are : « Smelling coffee beans did not result in higher mean accuracy of identification of novel fragrances (…) Coffee beans and lemon seem to have no special refreshing properties. »

The result is irrevocable. Scientifically speaking, neither citrus nor coffee beans have the effect of reducing the phenomenon of adaptation or habituation of odors. 

Why is there still an effect? 

Smells appeal to our emotions and our memory. Coffee is a familiar scent, that is easily recognized by our brain. It will instantly associate memories, images, feelings… Eventually, coffee beans will saturate our brain… Without even thinking, it identifies this scent and at the same time removes all the other images it had had previous fragrances. A big spring cleaning! The scent following the coffee beans will attract its attention because it will be less familiar and more complex. We then have the feeling that we smell it much better. 

Coffee beans in perfumeries are mainly based on olfactory marketing. 

These small beans force you to think of something else, it reminds you of other moments of the day and especially if the sellers tell you it works then a part of your brain accepts it and it works at least a little bit.  

A perfumer tips

Smell the top of your hand. Your nose and your brain are so used to the smell that your own skin are odorless to you. This is the best way to smell anything while smelling something. 

Be careful, if you have just washed your hands or put on a cream, you will smell the scent of the product and it does not work.