Have you ever noticed how after smelling fragrance after fragrance at the perfume counter, they all start to smell the same eventually? No, there’s nothing wrong with you. It happens to all of us, and there’s actually a name for it. It’s called “nose fatigue.”
The perfume industry is all too familiar with this “symptom.” It usually occurs after one too many sprays at the fragrance shop, in turn, weakening a person’s nasal receptors. This makes it nearly impossible to tell one perfume from the next.
As a result, you’ll often find many perfume shops with a never ending supply of coffee beans close by. Employees usually place them in small cups next to the perfume testers.
You may be wondering, “what on earth do coffee beans and perfumes have to do with one another?” Well, nothing at all really. Some experts, however, believe that coffee beans are able to “cleanse” a person’s nasal receptors so that they are able to distinguish one fragrance from the next.
Noam Sobel, a neuroscientist in the United Stated at UC Berkeley, is one of those experts.
“Smelling coffee aroma between perfume samples, as compared to smelling unscented air, actually works,” stated Sobel after conducting a study on the impact of coffee beans on a person’s sense of smell. “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.”
Despite Sobel’s findings, there are others who disagree with him completely. Avery Gilbert, a sensory psychologist, is one of them. He based his opinion on the effectiveness of coffee beans on the nose from a study called Perceptual and Motor Skills by psychologist Alexis Grosofsky.
During the study, Gilbert says each participant smelled several perfumes and rated them for pleasantness, intensity, and masculinity/femininity. Next, they sniffed a container full of coffee beans, lemon slices and just plain air to determine if these items acted as a palate cleanser.
According to Gilbert, the research found that sniffing coffee beans proved no more effective in clearing a personal’s nasal passages than the lemon slices or even plain air.
“Fragrance sellers may wish to reconsider the practice of providing coffee beans to their customers,” stated Grosofsky in the research.
So what do we make of the findings from both studies? We say if coffee beans work for you, keep on sniffing! After all, what’s the harm?