Monday, 25 August 2008

SMELLOVISION

More or less every day, when we are at home, I make David an early morning cup of coffee. I open the container of ground coffee and am immediately transported back to my childhood: shopping with my Mum in Bromley High Street and lingering outside the bakery and coffee shop (the name of which I have forgotten) caught in a state of olfactory inebriation by the smell of the roasting coffee beans...

I read that "the aroma of roasted coffee contains as many as 1,000 volatile compounds".

Curious!


To my mind, it is without question one of the most potent fragrances in the world and yet, for some reason, coffee never tastes -- to me, at least -- quite a fantastic as something that gloriously perfumed ought to taste!

I've recently (and belatedly) been reading Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies and came across a similar thought being expressed by the hero, Adam Fenwick-Symes, triggered by the scent of -- a kipper...
No kipper, he reflected, is ever as good as it smells; how this too earthly contact with flesh and bone spoiled the first happy exhilaration; if only one could live, as Jehovah was said to have done, on the savour of burnt offerings.

He lay back for a little in his bed thinking about the smells of food, of the greasy horror of fried fish and the deeply moving smell that came from it; of the intoxicating breath of bakeries and the dullness of buns...
For some fascinating insights into the aromatic powers of the coffee bean, read 'Simulating the Coffee Drinker’s Nose' on Neuromarketing: Where Brain Science and Marketing Meet.

And after all that talk of coffee, I think it's probably time for an iced frappuccino which, for the uninitiated is a blend of frappé - the Greek term for milkshake - and cappuccino.

And I think I'll drink it on the beach...


For those not able to sample the delights of a Kalymnian frappucino, here's Mr Waugh's book and an appropriate, accompanying coffee mug...



10 comments:

Suzanne said...

The French romantic poet Charles Baudelaire wrote a poem all about the sense of smell transporting you back to fond memories - "Correspondances". One of my favourite poems.
This being said, the coffee in Vienna is as close to the smell as you'll ever get!

Qenny said...

I worked with a chap who spent some time at a coffee manufacturing plant. He told me that they "re-use the atmosphere" from coffee processing plants. The grind their beans in a protective environment, and then squirt a bit of that richly aromatic air into the top of every jar of their cheaper instant coffee. Which is why when you open instant coffee, it always smells great, but the taste never quite matches up.

Of course, he could have been making it up - I'm very gullible.

Brian Sibley said...

SUZANNE - I'll look the poem up when I'm home. And, one day, I'll make it to Vienna; meanwhile, I can confirm that coffee in the grande caffes of Venice is also pretty near to perfection!

QENNY - I believe! I believe!!

Rena Fan said...

I don't think our "frappe" is equivalent to "milk shake". I can't think of a better description at the moment but it is not a milkshake. How about using the term "coffeshake"?e

Boll Weavil said...

O coffee, my coffee,
I love you so...
You are so hot
You make me glow,

My friends don't like you

But what do they know ?

(Garfield)

If you think the smell of coffee is better than the real thing, then you need to change your brand :-)

Brian Sibley said...

REN FAN - Coffeeshake it is! Although, of course, it is not shaken - or, come to that, stirred!

BOLL - Thanks for the verse... I love blogs; where else could you be directed to poems by Baudelaire and Garfield as a result of a single post?!

The smell/taste thing is (for me) all brands/makes... I can't explain it other than that the smell incites an expectation which is more wonderful than the taste can deliver...

Eudora said...

I am agree with Brian, for me the smell is the first sensation, but with the coffee I need both, smell and taste, I am nothing without my early morning coffee, and the fact is that for medical problems I have prohibited the coffe... but, my God, I can't resist, only one for a day, I just need one (large one), pleeeeaaaaseee......

Rena Fan said...

OK, frappe may be stirred nowadays, but originally frappe used to be made by shaking the shaker, in which you'd put instant coffee, water and perhaps sugar! And a bit of history: this kind of coffee was accidentally introduced in 1957 during the International Trade Fair of Thessaloniki when an employee of the Greek branch of Nestle wanted to have his usual instant coffee but could not find hot water!

Diva of Deception said...

Of course the smell of coffee is better than the real thing. I've never acquired a taste for coffee, real or instant or coffee flavoured such as chocolates, yet I love the smell of the stuff.

My parents brought home freshly ground beans every Saturday and the smell permeated my childhood. Yet every year, on my birthday, I had a cup to see if I'd grown to love the taste being a year older and coffee being an adult drink - but I never did.

That's why I'm sure I've never grown up!

Dave said...

I know the Bromley shop you refer to - they made fresh ground coffee and I had to be dragged away by my dad.