Myth vs Fact: Sniffing Coffee Beans In-Between Fragrances

Myth vs Fact: Sniffing Coffee Beans In-Between Fragrances. Image showing a white bowl filled with coffee beans.

Cover Photo: Alin Luna

Ever heard people say "You need to smell coffee beans to clear your nose between fragrance sniffs." Have you ever tried it before? Well, we're here to tell you that it's a myth, with no scientific backing to support this theory.

The National Library of Medicine published a study "An exploratory investigation of coffee and lemon scents and odour identification" where college students smelled three fragrances multiple times, rating odours each time. After completing nine trials, participants sniffed coffee beans, lemon slices, or plain air. Participants then indicated which of four presented fragrances had not been previously smelled; Coffee beans did not yield better performance than lemon slices or air.

Science explains that from a biological standpoint, our nose has an infinite limit for smelling and detecting fragrances (based on an extensive study conducted by researchers at the Rockefeller University). Dr. Alexis Grosofsky of Beloit College’s Department of Psychology has also provided some science to prove that coffee beans have no effect on cleansing your olfactory palate. She states that our olfactive glands (glands sensitive to smells) can differentiate between trillions of fragrances through a function called “Sensory Adaptation”.

Your olfactory senses can adjust to any smell they are exposed to, within a certain timeframe. That's why you may notice a difference in how your room smells when you return home from a week-long vacation, as opposed to when you're living there.

So, how do you avoid olfactory fatigue?

Try smelling one category of fragrance at a time. For example, you can begin by sniffing all your fougere fragrances and then switch to fruity perfumes; or try citrus fragrances first and then move on to the gourmand.

But...the best way to reset your nose in our opinion, is to try smelling your own skin on your arm or the inside of your elbow. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, then smell different fragrances.

Did you know about this myth? Let us know in a comment, and don't forget to share this post!

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