One Thousand Scents

Friday, June 27, 2008

Brew: Thierry Mugler A*Men Pure Coffee

I wanted A*Men Pure Coffee without even smelling it. I could just tell. A*Men turned out to be too sweet for me in the long run, and B*Men was an improvement, but this one; well, it smells like coffee. How could it not be great?

Sephora had posted a listing for Pure Coffee, but they never seemed to have it in; the website always said "Temporarily out of stock". They promised to e-mail me when it came in, and they never did, so I figured I'd have to take matters into my own hands, because they were probably never going to have it. There didn't seem to be any online retailers carrying it, so when Jim and I went to Halifax earlier this month, I made a beeline for The Bay in Dartmouth, which carries all the Mugler fragrances, even the limited-edition ones like that insane ink-pen perfume bottle for Alien.

Sure enough, they had a display of Pure Coffee, three bottles of the stuff, and they even had a tester. As soon as the saleswoman sprayed it, I knew two things: first, that it was an A*Men scent, and second, that I had to have it. So I bought it. (When I got back home, I checked Sephora for no particular reason and they'd taken down the listing for Pure Coffee.)

Here's the thing; straight out of the bottle, it smells like A*Men. A little bit. A*Men is very complex, with peppermint, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, patchouli, and lots of other elements jostling for space. When I first smell Pure Coffee, I can tell it's a relative of A*Men; it seems to be built, initially, to the same floor plan. Nobody else I've read mentions this: the reviews at Scented Salamander and Now Smell This and Chandler Burr's piece on the fragrance mostly just say "coffee coffee coffee". But it doesn't just smell like coffee. At first, it smells like A*Men with the coffee turned up full-blast and all the other elements dialed down or removed entirely (no bergamot); then the coffee just takes over altogether.

It's not a cup of coffee, or rather not a single cup; it seems like varieties of coffee at different times, with notes which slide into view and then recede again. It's dark, but not burnt, or at least not much. It has a creamy quality at times. There's a chocolate-mocha warmth which comes and goes. It's bitter, but sometimes (since this is an A*Men scent) a sweetness comes peeping through. I know how vague this all sounds, but the fact is that it isn't a single monolithic block of coffee fragrance; it shifts and realigns itself. You could smell it without knowing what it is and not even quite realize that it was a coffee scent, it's so protean.

Later on, the coffee fades away, mostly, and is supplanted by a soft sweet woody note. The whole thing is pretty durable, lasting five or six hours.

The packaging is, as usual, clever. I can't find a properly big picture of the carton, but it's meant to be a stylized foil-pack of coffee beans, the kind with the little plastic button in the middle which vents gases (coffee produces carbon dioxide, and you have to let it out so the bag won't burst but not let in any air, which would oxidize and degrade the beans). See that dot in the middle of the carton? You can actually smell the fragrance through it. There's a scent-impregnated pad of dense foam behind the hole; it's the colour of coffee with cream, it's the size of a playing card, and it's embossed with Thierry Mugler's signature. The bottle is the usual Mugler men's house bottle, only this time done in espresso-brown rubberized plastic; the star bulging through the cutout isn't the usual bottleglass (clear or red, as the case may be) but shimmery gold brushed metal. And the bottle's huge, a real handful, since it comes only in a 100-mL size.

There's not much else to say except that if you love coffee, or at least the smell of it, then you can't go far wrong with A*Men Pure Coffee. Hurry, though. It's a limited edition and it's leaving the shelves any day now.

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1 Comments:

  • Just loved your review, as usual! The problems with limited editions, when they are good, is that they're quite difficult to find, and when you find them, it hurts your heart to see the bootle losing its content... ahhahahahah
    I've just bought 50ml of A*Men through Ebay... lovely lovely lovely... Hope this Pure Coffee arrives at Brazil... dreams... dreams... dreams...

    By Anonymous Maddyrain, at 1:33 AM  

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