The scent of coffee

By : Elias Forero Illera
Internista reumatólogo. Rheumatologist internist. Internista reumatologista

08 July, 2021

"While the aroma multinationals take notice, we can place our coffee pots in the waiting rooms and health facilities. We will manage to reduce the anxiety of our patients and at the same time they enjoy a good cup of coffee."

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Some years ago I received a kind e-mail from Dr. Diego Luis Saaibi, then president of the Colombian Congress of Rheumatology. In the letter, my colleague invited me to present a conference entitled: The office in rheumatoid arthritis.

To tell the truth, I still cannot identify my colleague's intention with that presentation. In fact, I don't think he did either. The truth is that the lecture ended up turning into a talk on how to set up a rheumatology practice. 

The bonus track of the presentation consisted of some recommendations to turn the office of a health professional into a pleasant and welcoming place. The search to back up each recommendation with a bibliographic reference was so much fun that I can still find data to enrich that presentation.

One recommendation that was very interesting and revealing was related to the use of air fresheners. I found several proposals to scent the waiting room and the office in general. For example, the essences of lavender, vanilla and eucalyptus produce in patients feelings of well-being and relaxation that make the stressful experience of consulting a health professional comfortable (1).

It caught my attention that the soft and well recognized aroma of coffee was not represented in the references found. It is clear to me that the fragrance of freshly brewed coffee is capable of inducing modifications in the perceptions of the place where the infusion is being prepared.

There is nothing more evocative than entering a house where the aroma of steaming coffee is perceived, the imagination flies, you are not visiting a simple building, you are entering a home. This refreshing smell nostalgically evokes a loving grandmother preparing the traditional beverage to start a good day.

Now, when the place where the smell of freshly brewed coffee is perceived is an office during working hours, you realize that work is being done in that place. The aroma of coffee impregnates dynamism, energy, the executives that work in that place look efficient, diligent, it is a pleasure to work there.

There is nothing more stimulating for the senses than entering a restaurant where the aromas of the kitchen are paired with those produced by a steaming pot of fresh arabica – everything prepared there must be delicious.

It turns out that Thai researchers have discovered that the odor emanating from a cup of hot coffee has analgesic effects. The article, recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, shows that this odor has a calming effect on patients undergoing very stressful dental procedures (2).

It can be inferred that the best air freshener for a stressful medical surgical service must be the "relaxing" aroma emanating from a coffee machine. Health authorities may soon apply this requirement within the qualification processes for the offices of health professionals!

In spite of all the above, I do not have enough information to be sure if any company dedicated to the production and sale of essences has in its selection the aroma of freshly prepared Colombian coffee. 

A quick search on the web page of a well-known brand of air fresheners, I did not find any reference in this regard. While the aroma multinationals take notice, we can put our coffee pots to smoke in the waiting rooms and health facilities. Patients in the process of taking a consultation, will enjoy a good cup of coffee and at the same time modulate the anxiety of waiting.



  1. Jaruzel CB, Gregoski M, Mueller M, Faircloth A, Kelechi T. Aromatherapy for Preoperative Anxiety: A Pilot Study. J Perianesth Nurs. 2019 Apr;34(2):259-264. doi: 10.1016/j.jopan.2018.05.007. Epub 2018 Sep 8. PMID: 30205934.


  1. Pachimsawat P, Tangprasert K, Jantaratnotai N. The calming effect of roasted coffee aroma in patients undergoing dental procedures. Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 14;11(1):1384. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-80910-0. PMID: 33446795; PMCID: PMC7809118.
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