Why is There Coffee in Perfume Stores?

Why is There Coffee in Perfume Stores Cover

Every time I pass a department store perfume section, I notice cups of coffee beans sitting around their countertops.  I always wondered if smelling coffee beans reset our nose, or if it amplified our sense of smell? I decided to do some research and find out why are there coffee beans in perfume stores.

Generally, coffee beans are used in perfume stores to awaken our nasal receptors, acting as what is referred to as an olfactory palate cleanser. It is thought that smelling coffee beans will awaken your nasal receptors and enable you to continue to have the full experience of sampling the various perfumes.

The strong, rich aroma that wafts out from the cup of coffee beans is nearly the equivalent of a fresh pot of coffee, so they are considered to be powerful enough to kick start your sense of smell.

You see, when you spend some time at the perfume counter, smelling one perfume after another, you will eventually find yourself suffering from nasal fatigue.

This occurs when your receptors are losing their sensitivity to the delicate, aromatic notes in the perfumes. Essentially, your olfactory system is becoming accustomed to a smell and thus fails to identify it as a new scent.

It won’t be long before you will cease to detect the scents at all, and thus be unable to appreciate the perfumes.

This is a naturally occurring process and nothing to worry about. At most, it can be an inconvenience or a nuisance, but you don’t need to worry because your nose will recover. No permanent damage has been done. It just needs a rest. Hence the coffee beans.

Does Smelling Coffee Beans Reset Your Smell?

The concept of your nose becoming baffled after being bombarded by too many scents is actually a reality. However, coffee beans don’t really “reset” your ability to smell. They merely change what we are used to smelling.

The concept of inhaling something different to help stave off olfactory fatigue isn’t completely wrong though. Our brains are programmed to make adjustments for our mental survival.

It is the nature of the world around us that there is way too much going on for us to continually focus our concentration on each specific thing we come across.

This is why our brains step in to assist us in coping by editing out the things that aren’t important. Once we’ve smelled a fragrance for a period of time, our brain emits a signal indicating that the scent is familiar and permits us to ignore it.

By changing what you are smelling, you keep your nose from becoming desensitized. Coffee beans do this. But so would a lemon, lime, orange, and other things. This effect isn’t unique to coffee beans alone.

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Does Smelling Coffee Beans Clear Your Nose?

There have been claims that just smelling plain old coffee works wonders for restoring your sense of smell and claims to the contrary.

The bottom line is that the smell of coffee, just like the aroma of coffee beans, can provide the nose with a welcome break from the continuously repetitious smells of perfumes and alleviate nasal fatigue.

Coffee beans don’t clear your nose, instead, their overwhelming smell resets your nasal pallet allowing you to experience different scents again.

The easiest way of lessening or eliminating nasal fatigue, or nose blindness, is to leave the area for a while and then return. You have to give your nose a break from the same smell.

If you’ve had the experience of leaving your home for a certain amount of time and then when you got back realized that it smelled different than it previously did, this is an example of nose blindness being remedied by simply moving from one area to another for a time.

Now, it has been claimed that coffee is a possible nasal palate cleanser. One theory that has been floated around is that some of what is called odorants that are 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.

But many other things can produce the same result, including stepping outside to get some fresh air, smelling your own skin, even just turning away from the constant smell of perfume, or walking further down the aisle to escape it. It has also been stated that the scent of lemon, other citrus fruits, and onions can be beneficial as well.

In short, there is nothing particularly special about the smell of coffee or coffee beans that helps clear your nose.


Perhaps you’ve been in the perfume store sampling an array of fragrances and the salesperson has offered you coffee beans to sniff in between perfumes? Next time, you’ll know why.

Essentially, nearly anything that has strong aromatic properties can be temporarily substituted for whatever you were smelling that caused your nose to become desensitized.

Then, after enough time has passed, you should be able to detect the smell again because your nose has had a rest from it.

There’s really nothing you can do to prevent nasal fatigue from setting in. It can happen anywhere, from your own home to your workplace, to the perfume counter at the local mall.

This is the way our brains are geared to work so that we don’t become overwhelmed by all of the sensations around us.

So, while coffee and coffee beans are perhaps given too much credit for being able to restore our sense of smell, it isn’t a falsehood that they can help. They just aren’t the only aromas that can be beneficial for ending nasal fatigue, and promoting them as such is inaccurate and misleading. But using them for that purpose can indeed be helpful.

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