Coffee is poison. And yet I suddenly have the urge to roll in the mud and I say, “Yes, please.”

I stand in the doorway and watch while he makes it. The kitchen is completely white. He takes up his position in the middle, the way a badminton player does on the court, so he has to move as little as possible. He has a little electric grinder. First he grinds a lot of light-colored beans and then some that are tiny, almost black, and shiny as glass. He mixes them in a little metal funnel that he attaches to an expresso machine, which he places on a gas burner.

People acquire bad coffee habits in Greenland. I pour hot milk right on the Nescafé. I’m not above dissolving the powder in water straight from the hot-water tap.

He pours one part whipping cream and two parts whole milk into two tall glasses with handles.

When he draws out the coffee from the machine, it’s thick and black like crude oil. Then he froths the milk with the steam nozzle and divides the coffee between the two glasses.

We take it out to the sofa. I do appreciate it when someone serves me something good. In the tall glasses the drink is dark as an old oak tree and has an overwhelming, almost perfumed tropical scent.

“I was following you,” he says.

Indeed, he was following her, and his ability to deliver up an excellent coffee drink and a plausible explanation for his actions won’t lower the red flag waving in Smilla’s mind. However, this is the juncture where this couple starts to bond and it’s the perfect jumping-off point for talking about Bond-T.

Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Exploring the Stuff of Which Matches are Made
with Bond-T by Sammarco Perfumes


Bond-T perfume has notes of cocoa, patchouli, castoreum, tonka, vanilla and osmanthus. It can be purchased from perfumer Giovanni Sammarco’s website, where a 30-ml bottle is currently priced at 140 Swiss Francs (CHF). My review is based on the bottle I purchased.


Excerpt is from Smilla's Sense of Snow, a novel by Peter Høeg, translated by Tiina Nunnally; Translation copyright © 1993 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY, 1993, pp. 89-90)

Photos of actors Julia Ormonde and Gabriel Byrne are from the film adaptation of Smilla's Sense of Snow and were stolen from the website Byrneholics.com.

Photo of bottle of Bond-T perfume stolen from Fragrantica.com.


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I bought a bottle of perfume recently—only the third bottle I’ve bought this year, because at this stage of collecting I find it difficult to justify further purchases. However, a year ago I had received a sample package from Giovanni Sammarco, a former blogger-turned-perfumer who moved from his home country of Italy to start a new life in Switzerland (he is an interesting young man—I love this interview with him from Basenotes.net), and one of those samples lingered long enough in memory that when this winter arrived, I realized I wanted to have a bottle on hand for the season. The name of the scent is Bond-T, and if I told you it has one of the richest chocolate notes I’ve ever encountered—and that it was inspired by the perfumer’s visit to a premier chocolate factory in Pisa—this would be quite true, but it’s only part of this perfume’s narrative. On the whole, Bond-T is more of a tobacco-y gourmand fragrance than a chocolate one, but the way it commingles the smells of decadent, cocoa-infused patchouli, tobacco-leaning osmanthus, and the kind of musky- animalics one associates with a stable, this perfume is a slow-building yet steady exercise in seduction. For seasoned perfumistas reading here, imagine an intersection where the luscious patchouli bomb that is Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 meets the boozy, almost X-rated creation that is Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Absolue Pour le Soir. Then subtract the camphor facet from the Borneo side, the rose-honey facet from the Absolue Pour le Soir side, and consider the incredibly smooth, dark, purring bambino you’re left with. For the rest of you, let me try to describe it using a different tack.

When it first hits the skin, Bond-T is reminiscent of the bittersweet, dark chocolate aroma that issues forth from the grinding of freshly roasted coffee beans—and because of this and the way it develops thereafter, a scene from a novel comes to mind. Appropriately, that novel is the wintry, dark-souled Scandinavian novel Smilla’s Sense of Snow, and the scene (the passage excerpted below) is the starting point for the relationship that develops between Smilla, the novel’s savvy yet feral heroine, and the man she calls “the mechanic.” The mechanic lives in Smilla’s apartment building, and in the past he has fixed her bicycle and she has done a minor favor for him, but theirs is mostly a nodding acquaintance. Until this night—when the mechanic secretly follows Smilla to a factory in Copenhagen where she’s conducting her own secret investigation into the death of a child who lived in their building and who had wormed his way into Smilla’s steely heart. Perhaps because the mechanic had been a friend of the child’s too, when he startles Smilla via his intrusion at the darkened factory at 3 in the morning—and she more than startles him back by toppling a series of bookcases on him—he somehow survives the ambush (Smilla is the type of character who could have done him serious bodily harm). He ends up driving her back to their building and she follows him to his apartment, where hovering in the air is a good deal of suspicion between them and not much else to recommend them as a match. Smilla is a mathematical genius with the Greenland Inuit’s inner knowledge of snow and ice (and the Greenlander’s distrust of the Danes she now lives among). She’s also tiny, fierce and quick. The mechanic is tall and burly, slow of movement, a dyslexic, a stutterer—and a genius in the kitchen. “C-coffee?” he asks her, to which Smilla’s reaction is:


December 19, 2014:

Bond-T is not a coffee perfume, but in mood and even in terms of its scent facets, it evokes the passage above. From its rich cocoa start that reminds me of the making of a mochaccino to its base-note heavy construction that imparts a sense of both weight (importance, nourishment) and wait (a deliciously slow unfolding), Bond-T delivers up what a superlative gourmand perfume should. A feeling of cozy intimacy achieved through notes that speak of delight, warmth and sensuality—represented respectively by Bond-T’s chocolate, tobacco and animalic accords.

The chocolate notes that kick off the scent, upon application, are dense and liqueur-like; sweet enough to tickle the mind’s pleasure center while stopping short any thoughts of the patisserie shop. Cake and candy are definitely not on one’s mind when smelling it, for in the same way that the mechanic’s coffee drink was “dark as an old oak tree” and, simultaneously, in possession of “an overwhelming, almost perfumed tropical scent,” the osmanthus accord in Bond-T quickly makes itself felt through this cocoa haze, creating a similar effect. Osmanthus is a floral that can smell fruity, in the way of apricots and tea, and sensual in the way of suede leather. It can also be used to achieve a full-on impression of tobacco, and in Bond-T, this is the direction it takes. Nectarous and warm, this osmanthus-informed tobacco smells only of the curing leaf and not of anything smoky. It has a boozy fullness to it, thanks to the delicate apricot nuances of the osmanthus and the layer of chocolate scent that quiets but never fully disappears—likely because this chocolate is achieved, at least in part, by way of a deep, throbbing patchouli accord. One that smells earthy and aged, but without the camphorous element of natural patchouli. (Which is a pretty neat trick since Bond-T is an all-natural perfume.)

The animalic notes of Bond-T aren’t immediately evident, and the first couple times I wore the perfume, I didn’t notice them because they don’t thump you on the head the way that, for example, cumin does when it appears in a perfume. Achieved by way of castoreum and tonka, Bond-T’s animalic accord is different from any animalic accord I’ve ever sniffed: it steals up slowly in a way that reminds me both of Smilla and her mechanic. Its furtive nature might be attributed to the languor of the natural castoreum used in this perfume. It is less smoky and more delicate than mainstream perfumes that list castoreum as a note. Whatever the reason, the animalic base of Bond-T becomes pronounced late in the wear-time of the perfume, but while it is slow-building, when it arrives it makes the tobacco heart of this fragrance smell like tobacco leaves curing in the upper part of a barn that houses some cattle and horses below. As such, there is a whiff of what I’ll call the horse-dung-and-cattle-hide aroma that makes Bond-T smell wild and alive and, well, sexy. I think it might also account for the perfume’s staying power, as I get great longevity with this perfume, though the sillage is quiet for much of its wear time.

If liquor can be credited with fueling most of the world’s hook-ups, I suspect that slowly-savored cups of coffee or tea can be credited for fostering the world’s deeper bonds. In this regard, Bond-T is fittingly named: it’s an olfactory libation delivering the kinds of goodies that make serious people like Smilla feel, if not quite drunk with love, then at least tipsy with the possibilities.