Coffee and Flowers

One of the most intriguing aromas, that of roasted coffee beans, can be elusive. Anyone who has swooned over the perfume of freshly ground coffee– sweet, bitter, spicy, floral, toasted, with hints of blackcurrants, chocolate or hazelnuts—knows the frustration of capturing all of those beautiful nuances in an infusion. Coffee aficionados have challenges in brewing a perfect cup, but the task of perfumers to bottle the fragrance of Arabica is not easier.  A coffee note is capricious, and while the natural essence, coffee absolute, has an addictive aroma on paper, on skin it can resemble roasted meat and damp wood.

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 it keeps its presence mellow behind layers of sandalwood and leather.

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