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Want a Little Skunk With That Coffee?

Want a Little Skunk With That Coffee?

Ahhh, the smell of freshly ground coffee beans! There’s nothing quite like it.

Or is there?

It turns out there is, and it’s from an unexpected source. Not plant-based, and not mineral-based. Nope, believe it or not, a smell similar to coffee is a skunk spray! 🦨

If you have a very sensitive olfactory sense, you may experience the scent link. Fortunately, the skunky smell in coffee is not nearly as strong as a spray from an indignant skunk. Phew!


Mercaptans are the link. N-butyl mercaptan (CH3-CH2-CH2-CH2-SH) is the molecule heavily present in skunk spray. It is what makes the characteristic smell.

Coffee has two mercaptans: methyl mercaptan (CH3-SH) and furfural mercaptan (C4H3O-CH2-SH). It’s the furfural mercaptan the fragrance industry uses to make coffee scents. You can see the similarities in the molecular structure between the mercaptans. The SH (sulfur bonded to hydrogen) is the common denominator that links coffee and skunk.

These compounds are present in such minuscule amounts in coffee that detecting them requires a gas chromatograph! That tells us that there’s no need to worry that drinking (or smelling) coffee is too closely linked to consuming skunk spray. Not even close!


You know I had to try to smell the hint of skunk in a coffee fragrance!

When I uncorked the sample vial of Java Java Fragrance Oil and took a sniff, I smell coffee, vanilla, nuts, and caramel, but not even a suggestion of skunk. At first, I was a bit disappointed – I kind of wanted to pick it out. But Andee assured me it’s a good thing I smell only what the fragrance is supposed to smell like.

So now I’m sitting here craving one of Andee’s excellent espressos and wishing it was not such a long haul from Alaska to Utah!

Do yourself a favor: get your hands on some Java Java Fragrance Oil and enjoy the best coffee smell outside your local barista’s espresso machine! Check back here tomorrow for a quick way to get some Java Java into your life!

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