Coffee beans found in perfume stores are used to “reset your smell”, also known as “clearing the palate.” The odor of coffee is a way to flush your olfactory senses, which prevents olfactory fatigue. Olfactory fatigue occurs when there are a lot of smells present in the air, if you experience olfactory fatigue, you won’t be able to smell certain scents for a certain period of time. Smelling coffee beans fight against this.
Have you ever walked into a perfume store and noticed the small jars filled with coffee beans? There’s a good reason why they want you to smell the jar of coffee beans after having a few whiffs of perfume. But what does it do exactly?
Let’s find out.
Why Are Coffee Beans Used In Perfume Stores?
Coffee beans are used in perfume stores to “reset your smell”, also known as “clearing the palate”. The odor of coffee is a way to flush your olfactory senses for those who wish to sniff fragrances before purchasing it. Smelling the same notes over and over, as you do when fragrance testing, overwhelms your sense of smell, also known as “olfactory fatigue”, this makes you temporarily nose-blind as you will get less and less sensitive to the notes in the perfumes.
The atmosphere of perfumery is so laden with billion scents (Try to remember how it smacked you in the face when you walked in the door) and coffee beans are just an easy and effective way to get your olfactory senses back to normal for a bit so you can go straight back to more fragrance smelling.
What Is Olfactory Fatigue?
Olfactory fatigue, also known as “nose blindness” refers to a condition where someone’s nose becomes “blind” to certain smells. If you experience olfactory fatigue, you won’t be able to smell certain scents for a certain period of time.
Olfactory fatigue occurs when there are a lot of smells present in the air, take for example a restaurant, or in this instance, a perfume store.
It’s important to note that olfactory fatigue can happen at any time, at home, at your workplace, etc.
This issue is prevalent in perfume stores, and that’s exactly why you will find small jars with coffee beans in them. Taking a sniff from the coffee beans will help against olfactory fatigue, so you can go straight to more perfume smells.
If you don’t do this, you may find that you can’t smell anything after a while and every new fragrance you try will smell way below its full potential.
Does Smelling Coffee Beans Reset Your Smell?
It’s true that your nose gets extremely confused after being overwhelmed by too many scents. However, coffee beans don’t really reset your smell, they merely change what we are used to smelling.
The concept of smelling something different to fight olfactory fatigue isn’t wrong though.
Our brains are programmed to edit out things that aren’t important, and once we’ve smelled a fragrance for a period of time, our brain sends a signal indicating that the scent is familiar and tells us to ignore it.
By changing what you are smelling, you keep your nose from being desensitized, this is especially important during fragrance smelling.
Why Coffee Beans?
Changing your smell can be done with anything strong and familiar such as lemons, oranges, limes, etc., and thus is not unique to coffee beans alone.
The reason why they use coffee beans is that it’s easy to keep and maintain. They take a while to go bad and can be bought in bulk, making it an easy and good option to fight olfactory fatigue while you’re testing different fragrances. Imagine if they used a bunch of lemons in the store, they would go bad in about a week if they were left on the counter, so, not ideal.
Besides, coffee beans have a strong aroma that can give the nose a break from continuously smelling perfumes.
Coffee beans don’t clear your nose, instead, it’s their overwhelming smell that resets the nasal receptors, allowing you to experience different scents again to their full potential.
A good example may be your own home. Your nose is blind to the smell of it, but if you go to a house you’re not familiar with, your nose will notice a new smell straight away.
There have been claims that coffee is a possible nasal palate cleanser. The theory is that some of the odorants you can find in coffee may potentially have traits that remove other types of odorants from the nerve cells within the nose that are used to detect smells.
The Bottom Line
So, now you know why there are coffee beans in perfume stores. There’s no reason to be confused next time a salesperson offered you coffee beans to sniff between perfumes.
Don’t forget that it’s important to let your nose rest after a heavy session in the perfume store, believe me, your nose will be thankful for it.