It seems almost routine to be put on the beauty spot, yet it's rare that I'm asked a question I know the answer to, but can't explain why. But it happens. Recently, while shopping at Sephora, one of my friends asked why they had coffee beans in the fragrance section. "Well," I said in my most professor-ish voice, "Smelling coffee beans between perfumes is like eating sorbet between courses. Both help distinguish the latest flavor (or scent) from the original one." She looked at me, and pushed: "Says who?"
I pointed at myself but couldn't get this question out of my head. I returned home and located a Sense of Smell Institute that clarifies the original experiment. Answer the "says who?" for yourself when you read more.
The lab of UC Berkeley scientist, Noam Sobel, found when examining the "Influence of Smelling Coffee on Olfactory Habituation":
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.
This isn't the only way to clear the nose and increase sensitivity for the next evaluation. Other popular nose-clearing techniques employ smelling a swatch of wool or smelling an unfragranced forearm. Now, I'm not the only smarty pants in town. Go forth and impress your pals about the coffee beans at perfume counters nationwide . . . and it helps to toss in "olfactory habituation" a few times while you're at it.