On smelling your coffee and the Nez Du CafÉ

I’ve always been someone who enjoys scents. To the point where I’ll read about the chemical basis of one’s sense of smell in my spare time—speaking of, Chandler Burr’s “The Emperor of Scent” is highly recommended—and occasionally challenge myself and others by setting up blind aroma identification tests or puzzling aloud over difficult-to-place odors. For example, this weekend I was at a great little Pakistani market buying chicken, and the cashier gave my son the curious-looking drink you see above. Despite the name, it tasted (smelled?) more like banana than anything else. My wife didn’t agree, but a quick Google search backed me up (NB: there’s no banana purée or “natural flavoring” on the ingredient list). This olfactory orientation apparently runs in the family, as my 4-year-old son declared yesterday that the wooden bridge we crossed reminded him of how watermelon smells. He might be on to something! Anyway, focusing in, perhaps you now understand why I might be interested in the Nez Du Café set.

In case you’ve never seen or heard of one, here’s some background from the Espresso Parts product description:

“For 20 years now, Jean Lenoir has been acknowledged by professionals and amateurs worldwide for his ground-breaking words on the sense of smell. Following the Le Nez du Vin, the Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia suggested that they both join forces to present the 36 most significant aromas in coffee. This was achieved via a scientific analysis carried out by David Guermonprez, and a taste analysis carried out by Eric Verdier. This innovative work has been approved by experts and scientists in the field. The taste and smell of coffee deserved to be researched in as much depth as wine. This research contributes to the understanding and promotion of a product of similar prestige. Our kit offers a simple, intelligent and entertaining way to learn based on the education of the senses. The Nez du Café makes it easy for everyone...Jean Lenoir has chosen Roger Pfund to present his scented symphony. This designer of talent has managed to combine the functional aspect of the work with the purity of design.”

There’s a somewhat less pricey “Temptation” version of the kit containing just six of the “most familiar aromas found in coffee,” namely garden peas, blackcurrant-like, butter, caramel, roasted peanuts, and roasted coffee. What do you think of the aromas chosen for inclusion? The last one seems kind of ridiculous at first glance. And garden peas? Don’t know that I’d call it among the most common things I’ve smelled at the bottom of my mug (if ever in coffee).

The full version of the Nez Du Café set could be yours for the low, low price of a Baratza Preciso. Here are all of the aromas it comes with: earth, potato, garden peas, cucumber, straw, cedar, clove-like, pepper, coriander seeds, vanilla, tea-rose/redcurrant jelly, coffee blossom, coffee pulp, blackcurrant-like, lemon, apricot, apple, butter, honeyed, leather, basmati rice, toast, malt, maple syrup, caramel, dark chocolate, roasted almonds, roasted peanuts, roasted hazelnuts, walnuts, cooked beef, smoke, pipe tobacco, roasted coffee, medicinal, and rubber.

How many of these have you discovered in coffee? Personally, I’d say my number is around 24. Maybe I’d need to revise that figure up or down if I had the vials in front of me to sniff while sipping. By the way, they’re available for purchase individually, though shipping isn’t cheap.

Enough for now. I’m off to stick my nose somewhere it doesn’t belong!


New addition to the family: a Bunn Trifecta MB! (aka Aeropress killer)
On the way: Klatch’s FT Rwanda Café Femenino (got tired of waiting for it to appear here) and Portola’s Roney Diaz Villela (Brazil; splurge)
Somewhat intrigued by: West Bean's new Ethiopia Kochere

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