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Coffee “Nose” Best! Does Coffee Cleanse Our Nasal Palate?

Ever walk around your favorite department store just to try on the newest fragrance? Whether you’re testing out the hottest new perfume or everybody’s favorite classic cologne, the experience is usually the same—the woman who spritzes it on your wrist is usually wearing black, there are usually plenty of samples to take with you and there is almost always a container of coffee to smell after you’ve tested a few fragrances. But why a container of coffee? Why do fragrance reps ask you to smell coffee after smelling a few different perfumes? We’re not just experts in tasting coffee—we’re experts in smelling it too! So, as your favorite coffee experts, we’re here to tell you—coffee is an olfactory palate cleanser! It all comes down to basic psychophysiology (which isn’t all that basic). When someone samples one perfume or cologne after the other, he or she may experience “nasal fatigue”. Nasal fatigue happens when your nasal receptors become less and less sensitive to certain notes, making it difficult to tell one sample from the next. Therefore, utilizing coffee in between fragrance testing can actually “cleanse” out your nasal receptors and provide you with an untainted smelling palate. Some scientists are out to disprove this theory. Here at The Roasterie, however, we believe it to be absolutely true. Coffee as an olfactory palate cleanser was actually first discovered by UC Berkeley neuroscientist Noam Sobel. He states that:

Smelling coffee aroma between perfume samples, as compared to smelling unscented air, actually works. The perceived odor intensity of the perfume from sample to sample stayed the same after smelling coffee aroma while it decreased when smelling air between samples. The pleasantness of the perfume, however, was similar after smelling coffee or air.

Much like when food critics sample sorbet in between courses to “cleanse” their palates, we take in the aroma of coffee when sampling different smells. But what if we want to smell coffee beans themselves? How do we cleanse our nasal palates before sample-smelling the next bean? There’s an answer for that, and we use it every day in our coffee factory—your very own skin! That’s right! If you’re sample-smelling coffee beans, the best way to cleanse your olfactory palate in between sniffs is by taking a big whiff of your very own skin. Human skin is another “cleanser” for the nose. So the next time you’re wafting beans with us, be sure to wear short sleeves—your nose may revisit your forearm various times throughout the day!