A Love Letter to Coffee’s Aroma

There are two smells that take me to a special place in side of my head, where everything is safe, and glowing with warmth and comfort. The first is a cinnamon apple pie baking in the oven.

The second? Coffee.

I’m not sure that there’s a better aroma on the planet than coffee. I’m talking fresh coffee ground recently from the bean, by the way. You instant slackers are getting a poor substitute, and I think many of you know that. The aroma of coffee is the perfect salesperson, letting me know that I could indulge in its rapture for a mere dollar or two.

Some estimates have stated that there are as many as 800 aromatic compounds found in coffee, each bringing something to the table. Each adding its own characteristic resulting in a product that is greater than the sum of its parts.

I could get clinical here if I wished. I could point out the the aroma contains such volatile compounds such as (E)-ß-Damascenone, which gives a honey-like, fruity like smell, or Furfurylthiol, which gives it that roasty, toasty character, or even Guaiacol, responsible for the whisper of spice in the background. I could do this, but in this action, the romance is lessened. The joy reduced. It’s akin to knowing the type of paint that Leonardo da Vinci used on the Mona Lisa. No, it’s far better to simply indulge in the result, rather the try to piece together the why of its character.

The aroma is made for morning, by the way. Yes, yes, one could make the argument that I’m simply culturally designed to accept coffee in the AM. But I’ve been in coffee shops at different points in the day, and I can say by experience that the aroma of coffee is best between 4 AM and 10 AM. Any other time, and the experience seems less than what it should.

I’m not going to go into the quality of the drink itself. That is for another time. Today? Today is about coffee’s aroma. The smell of it is akin to love at first site. It is a promise of better things to come. It is a sign that, at least for a moment, everything is just fine with the world.