ClaireV's Review of Café Noir by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

I always get mixed up between DSH Perfumes Café Noir and Ava Luxe Café Noir, and I’m going to assume that this is the case for many of you out there too! A quick way to remember the differences between them is this: the Ava Luxe Café Noir is a pure black-bitter espresso scent, while the DSH Perfumes Café Noir is a spicy, ambery oriental that happens to feature coffee as one of its notes. In other words, if you’re specifically looking for the 100% pure Arabica experience, go straight to Ava Luxe; if you’re looking for a warm oriental with a coffee-ish undertone, then read on, because DSH Perfumes Café Noir may be your bag.

DSH Perfumes Café Noir opens with a sharp herbal-spicy accord that smells like coffee grounds mixed with Old Spice and amber crystals. Running the gamut from bay rhum to lavender and an interesting note like sun-roasted thyme, the opening seems to employ the same trick as many coffee perfumes, which is to supply the nose with a host of coffee-adjacent notes like burnt wood, garrigue herbs, lavender, and resin and nudge our brains into making the kinetic leap to coffee. The difference in the DSH Perfumes case is that Café Noir tips the balance in the Old Spice direction, which gives it a masculine feel, but then also layers in a crunchy, hippy amber beneath that to counterbalance that with sweetness. This creates a complex ‘layered’ effect not usually seen in coffee-forward scents; coffee on top of shaving foam on top of amber.

Therefore, while DSH Perfumes Café Noir is not as pure or as dark as Café Noir by Ava Luxe, it ends up being a more relaxed, easier perfume to wear. The use of tolu balsam, a favorite ingredient of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, is especially clever because this is a spicy, warm-toned balsam with clear cinnamon-like facets that shades in the areas underneath the coffee topnote, leaving you with the impression of coffee sprinkled with spice.

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Recent Reviews of Café Noir by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

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