Intense Cafe by Montale Paris 2013


Post by Greg Young.


The house of Montale is pretty much all about wood. Especially aoud. Occasionally Pierre Montale will deign to include a stray gourmand, amber or leather note but really this Operation Iraqi Freedom house is for fans of wood. Especially aoud.

If the theory that packaging is a guide to the marketing strategy holds, then the house of Montale is also all about blokes. Especially DIYers who always have the oxy-acetylene torch or a spot welder ready to go, or those capable dads who are the first to set up the gas barbie on the weekend. At a pinch, their market may include Master Chef fans who wield a mean blowtorch in front of a quivering creme brulee.

Montale bottles are the blokeiest in the market.

If you are going to review Montale fragrances this is the time of year to do it. If you’re doing it around Easter, there is an obvious candidate: Chocolate Greedy. Fortunately, I was able to evade that cliche, but only because I don’t have any. As I write this Chocolate Greedy is almost the perfect, most succinct description of my current state. A missed opportunity to pair feast and fragrance, that’s for sure.

Photo Stolen Wikipedia

Intense Cafe by Montale Paris 2013

Intense Cafe Montale FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Floral notes
Heart: Coffee, rose
Base: Amber, vanilla, white musk

Instead I chose another of Montale’s atypical fragrances, the oriental gourmand Intense Cafe. Having had a big Easter celebration on at home, I felt that its warm vanilla would be more suitable on a pleasant autumn day than a big beefy aoud.

Intense Cafe is described by Montale as “A truly enticing fragrance. Brilliant Floral Notes reveal a surprising heart made of Delicate Rose and Sensual Coffee. This perfect duo leaves a very beautiful sillage of Vanilla, Amber and White Musk.” 

This one gets a pretty warm reception on Fragrantica, notably among men of my generation. Young ‘uns seem unimpressed, and it doesn’t seem to get much love from the ladies at all. Perhaps it’s the packaging. Consensus on Fragrantica is that rose predominates here and vanilla and coffee share a roughly equal second billing.

Intense Cafe Montale Rose PixabayPhoto Stolen Pixabay

Rose and coffee are among my favourite notes, so Intense Cafe should be right down my street, but I feel that it doesn’t really deliver in that way. It opens with the kind of warm coffee made at Starbucks, laced with vanilla flavouring and then served to coffee drinkers who don’t really like coffee. Far from Intense, this scent is like a mellow cafe au lait in a New Orleans riverside jazz cafe compared to New Haarlem’s ristretto in a New York hipster haven.

Which is not to say it’s bad, just that a luscious vanilla rushes to the fore and shoves the coffee to the sidelines, yelling “pick me, pick me”. Intense Cafe pretty quickly becomes intense vanilla, with a thorn’s-edge of rose to prick at the sweet gourmand. On this day, for this occasion, walking around in warm sweet vanilla was no bad thing.

Intense Cafe Montale Coffee Paul Wilkinson FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

Where Intense Cafe really does deliver is on Montale’s vanilla and amber promise. It’s 12 hours after I put this on, and I can still smell a trace of vanilla on my wrist, but a big waft of it is still there on my shirt. There are no longevity issues with this one. So even if you don’t like wood, especially aoud, Pierre Montale still has one for you.

Further reading: The Non Blonde and Ca Fleure Bon
LuckyScent has $120/50ml
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $4.50/ml

What Montales have you tried? Does coffee sound good in a perfume to you?
Greg X

10 thoughts on “Intense Cafe by Montale Paris 2013

  1. HI Greg,
    Thanks for this fun post! I haven’t tried Intense Cafe but its not because of the packaging. I love the Montale metal canisters. They suggest to me that something seriously fragile, chemical or perhaps even explosive is inside and that I had better take care not to leave my Montale next to high heat or flame! Your description of the fragrance makes me want to give this one a try just for the vanilla!
    Azar xx


  2. Ha, chocolate greedy! My only foray into Montale was a set of Red, Black and White Aoud, and they were terrifyingly potent. The number of fragrances from this house is staggering, so it’s difficult to know what to try next.
    I do like the sound of Intense Cafe though, thanks for the review!


  3. Montale is one of the first niche houses I tried. I love Black Aoud and it’s the fragrance that got my daughter interested in perfume and we all know what happens then! It’s strange, but I have tried 10+ other Montale scents since then and don’t really like a single one.


  4. This sounds ok, shame it’s not big on the coffee. I’ve tried Intense Tiare which is gorgeous, I’m going to splurge and get the full size when I get the chance 🙂


  5. I have tried this one a few times, and I was surprised that I had trouble picking out the coffee. I will also have to try to pick out the vanilla, specifically! On my skin, it smelled like a big juicy, and slightly sweet wood ‘n rose. It actually reminded me of SL Santal Majascule quite a lot for the first hour or so, but the drydown was more gourmand-ish (like you described!)


  6. Hey Greg,
    Always excellent to see you here at APJ. I quite like the idea of Intense Cafe but it didn’t work nicely with my chemistry. Have you tried Cafe V by Olympic Orchids or Milano cafe by La Via Del Profumo?
    Portia xx


    • Haven’t tried either of those Portia. I’m wearing Rochas Man today, but I’d say that’s even less like a real coffee scent than the Montale. I think that, for me, TF Cafe Rose and New Haarlem are the best examples of a coffee fragrance. I should try more of them though, now that the weather is right for it


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