Coffee, tea or a dab of perfume?
The popularity of artisanal coffees and teas has filtered into the perfume world, where consumers are snapping up scents with notes of lapsang souchong, Earl Grey and cappuccino.
“The coffee customer is one that wants a pronounced scent… something bold, but approachable, and the tea customer is one that seeks a lighter, fresher, laid-backa pproach to a scent,” says Franco Wright, cofounder of L.A.’s Scent Bar.
Tea hit the perfume spotlight most notably with L’Artisan’s smoky Tea for Two in 2000. When the company discontinued it, fans raised such a ruckus that it’s now back, competing with dozens of tea scents from budget-conscious Demeter to high-end Hermès’ Osman the Yunnan.
Coffee woke up later, with Bond No. 9’s rich New Haarlem in 2003, a nod to Manhattan’s coffee-drinking Dutch immigrants.
Wright says a hot seller is Intense Cafe by Montale, which blends coffee with amber and vanilla. The store even offers a coffee and mint bodywash.
The trend started in the niche and indie perfume market, where perfumers hunt down intriguing new notes, like South America’s yerba mate, whose leaves are steeped in tea. Ayala Moriel’s Gaucho, Lorenzo Villoresi’s Yerbamate and Annick Goutal’s Duel all feature this note. Indie online perfumers Ava Luxe and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz offer perfumes called Cafe Noir and department store brands from Thierry Mugler to Jo Malone have also tried their hand with coffee and tea, respectively. Barney’s now produces a branded perfume called Barney’s Route du Thé.
At perfume-making workshops hosted by L.A.’s Institute for Art and Olfaction, participants often ask for notes of cacao, coffee and black, green or camomile tea. “Tea has so many aromatic components, it’s a real scentscape and people are drawn to it,” founder Saskia Wilson-Brown says.