An incredible ability
The 30 million olfactory cells in your nose enable it to detect tiny quantities of many aromas and odours.
Coffee contains around 800 olfactory substances, although we cannot identify all of them. Sometimes we can recognise food by just a few of its molecules.
The importance of our sense of smell
Our sense of smell is essential to really enjoy food! For example, when you eat, if you close your eyes and pinch your nose, you will not be able to tell the difference between a potato and a carrot.
Have you ever noticed that, if you have a cold and your nose is blocked, food all seems to have much the same taste?
Why do odours trigger emotions and memories?
Odours can spark old memories, for example of a meal you ate. This is because the part of your brain related to olfaction is connected to the part that analyses memories.