A Material Love Story: Cacao

The cacao tree yields one of the
greatest pleasures known to man

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The history of the cacao tree has roots in the ancient Central and South American cultures. The Mayas were the first known to have cultivated the trees in what is today known as modern day Mexico. Chocolate, the familiar product that the cacao pods yields, originates from the Aztecan word “xocolatl” which means “bitter water.” Cacao itself, derives from the word “Kakaw” and was not discovered by Europeans until roughly a decade after Christopher Columbus discovered America.

Today, the cacoa tree also grows in tropical countries like Ecuador and Brazil, and yields fruit commonly called cabooses, directly on it’s trunk or branches. When they are harvested, they are split open with machetes to gather their beans, which are a pearl-like white. The beans are then washed, fermented by immersion, dried before being roasted to enhance the aroma, and then ground into powder. During the grinding process, the fat content dissolves, producing a thick buttery liquid. Our Cacao Tabac is an expression of both the cacao pod and the contextually rich history of the region from where it is grown.

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Material Love Story: Oud

From a bacteria infected tree to the world
of Royalty, oud is pure gold for perfumistas

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There are few raw materials that don’t come from living, healthy sources. Along with ambergris (whale vomit), oud is one of those few.

It is expressed from the core of the agar tree, though the specific trees that yield oud are in fact decaying and infected with a mold known as Phialophora parasitica. As a natural defense mechanism, the tree produces a thick, dark amber colored, boldy redolent resin to protect itself. The resin remains inside the tree until it is tapped and extracted by highly specialized harvesters. The trees are grown throughout south-east Asia and oud is one of the most expensive of all natural raw ingredients, reaching a price tag of up to $30,000/kilo.

The scent itself, from warm and woody to smoky and animalic, varies considerably depending on a multitude of factors, but one thing is certain: it is beautiful and potent so it is not for the faint of heart. Too get a sense of its beauty, try Kyara Clove or Imperial Oud.

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Rose De Mai Harvest In Grasse

The gold standard for all rose cultivation and harvesting
comes to a close for the season

Flowers Fragrance
Rose De Mai HarvestRose De Mai HarvestRose De Mai HarvestRose De Mai HarvestRose De Mai Harvest

For five weeks between May and early June, in a small area of Grasse in Southern France, dozens of sun-bronzed local harvesters in straw hats move up and down the rows of bushes, gently but with purpose, snapping off their pink blooms and gingerly placing them into the apron pouches they wear. They are on a mission and time is not their friend. Like battlefield medics who understand the fragility of life, they must collect, bag and transport their fragrant bounty back to the processing facility before the rose heads begin to decompose and lose their stunningly vibrant aroma.

As the blooms pull up to the facility, men, young and old, unload dozens of burlap sacs which are quickly transferred to the plant. Inside, as the blooms await their fate in the extractors, processing vats where their oil will be expressed, men with pitchforks and shovels repeatedly “churn” the large pile of roses to keep them from crushing each other and delaying their demise. As the multi-tiered extractors are prepared, thousands of roses are then dumped in, their fate sealed inside the vats where Hexane, a powerful solvent, is pumped in to facilitate the molecular extraction of rose oil.

The result leads to a solid “concrete,” a waxy aromatic disc with the rose essence which is further processed to reveal a reddish-golden concentrated rose absolute oil. What results after this laborious process is one of the world’s most exquisite aromas in the world, which can be found in Rose Immortelle, Pétales d’Amour, Scarlet Flower and several other Belle Fleur fragrances.

image 1 & 4 Photograph by Parki Dukovi

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