Maison Tahité Velvet Coffee

Maison Tahité Velvet Coffee ingredients via the brand

Brassens sings defiantly about his mauvaise reputation on the tape deck behind the bar as the patron pours Jenlain beer into tall glasses. Through the long windows, rain patters on the cobblestones. It’s a time before cellphones or televisions blaring sportscasts; M. Brassens is interrupted only by the occasional barks of the chef in the tiny kitchen in the back and the animated hubbub of the table of students near the door. The air indoors is warm as a blanket and steamy with dozens of café au lait. As the waitress hurries past, bakery smells from just-out-of-oven croissants, thick with sweet butter, drift across the room tantalizingly. My café crème smiles up at me from its enormous wide-lipped cup – the barman drew a face in the foam – the whipped milk at its brim as thick as clotted cream. I sit back for that first milky sip, grab the copy of Le Monde someone left on the table next to mine, and feel certain that there is nowhere else I should be.

Paris café, creative commons

My first forays to Parisian cafes are indelible: the bubbling whoosh of the espresso machine, the bargello rise and fall of conversation; businessmen in suits gravely reading the day’s news, friends chattering over endless Gauloises and ballons of Beaujolais. And the aroma – a mingle of bakery smells, bitter coffee, dark chocolate, cigarettes, hot milk and caned wood. But I never thought I would find that unmistakably singular fragrance in a perfume until I smelled Maison Tahité Velvet Coffee.

While I am also a tea drinker, coffee is my first love: its bitter, earthy flavour, the roasty smell as it brews, the pop and bubble of the espresso maker. And coupled with a generous piece of seriously dark chocolate, it is one of my favourite flavour combinations. So, how in the world did I miss Maison Tahité’s coffee-centric line of perfumes (it’s other lines are based on vanilla and cacao) until Pitti Fragranze last fall? Fortunately, there they were, tucked into a corner in all their caffeinated glory. While I liked them all, Velvet Coffee, created by IFF perfumer Delphine Lebeau, caught my attention straightaway with its uncanny evocation of a classic French café.

Delphine Lebeau IFF

 IFF Perfumer Delphine Lebeau

Ah, that first spray! It’s a delicious rush of dark chocolate, barely sweet, and roasted coffee, bitter and toasty. Initially, Velvet Coffee smells of the undiluted beans of its key notes, not brews – the chocolate is unsweetened and dusty (I begin to detect cardamom), while the coffee is toasted and slightly floral. The unbearably tempting smell of butter pastry not far behind, and I quickly find myself taken back years ago to that little joint in Oberkampf, sampling noisettes with my friend Mia in our quest to find the best coffee in Paris. As the coffee and coca settle in, viennoiserie wafts in like an edible breeze. The pastry scent here is brilliant – off-sweet, creamy, buttery, and textural to the point where I imagine the flakes of the baked dough falling into my lap.

Maison Tahité coffee collection

Maison Tahité Velvet Coffee is from the Coffee Collection

Lost in reminiscing for a while, I revisited the scent about twenty minutes later. In its mid-section, Velvet Coffee merges cardamom and coffee more noticeably as the cocoa moves back a bit. The scent starts to become rounder and more flowery with the arrival of leatherwood – a Tasmanian tree with hints of orange blossom – and orris. The orris, which is responsible for much of the pastry sensation, becomes much stronger now as itself, thanks to the reinforcing rooty sweetness of carrot oil. Sandalwood smooths everything out neatly, and the cedar in the mix is uncharacteristically quiet. But the combined wood notes towards the dry down remind me again of the cafes, with their striated wood walls and rattan chairs. Patchouli and vetiver bring a subtle earthiness to the finish. And then I’m ready to reapply to relive that delectable opening.

Maison Tahité Velvet Coffee is so redolent of the smells I associate forever with Paris that all I need to do now is pour another cup of my weekend black brew, dig out some Brassens, spritz my wrist and close my eyes. Paris, here I come.

Notes: Cardamom co2 (lmr), cocoa abs md, benzoin resinoid, cedarwood heart Virginia (lmr), coffee accord, orris accord, carrot oil, sandalwood oil album, oakmoss absolute, leatherwood, patchouli heart (lmr), vetiver oil Haiti md for life, vanilla accord, ambroxan.

Disclaimer: Bottle of Maison Tahite Velvet Coffee generously provided by the brand via Luckyscent. My opinions, as always, are my own.

Lauryn Beer, Senior Editor

Velvet Coffee Maison Tahité

Maison Tahité Velvet Coffee

Thanks to the largesse of Maison Tahité, we have a 100 ml bottle of Velvet Coffee for one registered reader in the EU only. You must register. To be eligible, please leave a comment saying what intrigues you about Velvet Coffee based on Lauryn’s review and whether you have ever sampled Maison Tahité fragrances. Please stat that you live in the EU.  Draw closes 2/8/2024. The winner will be announced within 2 weeks of the draw closing.

Read our reviews of other Maison Tahité fragrances: Ristretto, Cacao in the sun,  Vicious Cacao, Vanilla2, Sel Vanille

A selection available at Indigo Perfumery.

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