How NYC Beats Its Stinky Reputation

New York City is known for a lot of things: fashion, incredible skylines, its fast-paced lifestyle — just to name a few. It's also known for not having the greatest of smells. No one wants to inhale deeply as they walk down a street covered in trash bags or stand in the hot subway station surrounded in lingering body odor. And don't even get us started on the exhaust.

But in all fairness, we think the city has unfairly gotten a bad rep. True New Yorkers know there are plenty of enticing scents waiting around every corner, too. We can't go more than a city block without running into the delectable scent of food and drink carts, one-of-a-kind used book stores, or a city garden you'd only find in the Big Apple. In fact, Coach drew inspiration from all these NYC vibes to create its newest fragrance, Coach Eau de Parfum. Just as each note is inspired from a different aspect of the city (raspberry represents its high energy while suede musk evokes the city's sensual appeal), we've put together five more deliciously distinct smells that make this the city we know and love.

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Illustrations by Isabel Castillo.
Coffee Roasting
Working that all-day grind, New Yorkers need their caffeine fix to survive. There's something about the smell of fresh coffee beans roasting that instantly soothes our anxiety-filled souls. And this city is brimming with options. Here are three spots we frequent for our morning cups of Joe:

La Colombe: When out-of-towners ask where to get coffee, we answer with La Colombe 99.9% of the time. The coffee is simple and smooth, but strong — just the way we like it.

La Colombe, multiple locations.

Stumptown Coffee
: Not only can we get great java here, but it's also an awesome place to get work done or catch up with friends. You can find us hanging out at the Greenwich Village location, casually snapping pics of the herringbone floors and globe lights.

Stumptown Coffee, multiple locations.


Blue Bottle Coffee: This is a place that prides itself on excellence. We can always expect the absolute freshest cup (no coffee is ever more than 48 hours out of the roaster). And if/when you fall in love like we did, sign up for a subscription blend box that's sent right to your door.

Blue Bottle Coffee, multiple locations.
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Illustrations by Isabel Castillo.
Sweet Florals
Yes, the concrete jungle has greenery other than Central Park. The gardens and flower shops in the city make for ideal Instagram shots, but it's the floral smell wafting through the air that makes us pause in the middle of our daily hustle-and-bustle to appreciate the beauty of nature. (There's a reason why it's a main note in so many fragrances.) Below are three places we like to take a stroll — camera phones at the ready.

New York Botanical Garden: We come here to get away from the noise of the city. You can bet we're either getting lost in the rose garden that contains over 30,000 roses (unfortunately, you can't get a whiff of that Turkish rose scent that we love from the Coach Eau de Parfum) or visiting the annual orchid show.

New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard; 718-817-8700.

Riverside Park: This park is completely underrated. Located on the Upper West Side (yes, it can be a trek to get to), the urban oasis has one of the best views of the Hudson River.

The Flower District: We find all our flower needs in Midtown along 28th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenue. Walking along this route feels like being in an actual jungle — we literally have to dodge leafy plants on the sidewalk. But with an entire block filled with just flower shops and experts, we'd be shocked if you didn't find that rare flower you were looking for.
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Illustrations by Isabel Castillo.
Leather Notes
The smell of good leather is rich and powerful, and it means different things to different people. For some, it's reminiscent of being cuddled into a loved one's old leather jacket. For others, it's the decadent scent of a long-awaited splurge. And in one of the fashion capitals of the world, good leather is almost too easy to stumble upon.

Bergdorf Goodman's Shoe Salon: There is no shoe selection quite like the one at Bergdorf's. We always find a huge selection of brands in every size — including the hard-to-find ones. Even if we're not planning a purchase, we go for the eye candy.

Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue; 212-753-7300.

Will Leather Goods World Store: Whether we're looking for a leather wallet or a leather dog leash, this store will have it. Not only do they carry a wide assortment, but the staff is also super knowledgable in helping us find the perfect pick.

Will Leather Goods World Store, multiple locations.

Schott NYC: When it comes to iconic leather jackets, Schott NYC is our go-to brand. It's been around for 100 years, and its "Perfecto" jacket is a celeb favorite.

Schott NYC, 236 Elizabeth Street; 212-219-1636.
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Illustrations by Isabel Castillo.
Baked Goods
Yummy food smells are everywhere we turn in this city, but it's the bakeries that really bring us to our knees. The aroma of fresh-baked bread coming straight out of the oven or the smell of icing on a cupcake is enough to draw us off the street and into the heated space any day. These are our top three places for giving in to sweet cravings:

Breads Bakery: It was love at first bite when we first tasted this bakery's world-famous chocolate babka — and that's saying a lot in a city full of award-winning pastries. And, did we mention the bread?

Breads Bakery, 18 E 16th Street; 212-633-2253.

Levain Bakery: We've tasted a lot of cookies in our day (don't judge), and Levain's are exceptional. Crispy on the outside and extra gooey on the inside, it's like we died and went to cookie heaven.

Levain Bakery, multiple locations.

Momofuku Milk Bar: Two words: birthday cake. Whether we choose the multi-layer or truffle variety, we can't go wrong at Momofuku.

Momofuku Milk Bar, multiple locations.
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Illustrations by Isabel Castillo.
Story Scents
For old-school bookworms like us, there's nothing like physically holding a book and smelling its pages. The crisp scent of a new paperback or the musky whiff of a classic is almost as good as the story itself. It's soothing for both our noses and our souls.

McNally Jackson Books: Carrying over 55,000 volumes, plus a book binder and printer to self-publish our own words, this place is perfect for letting the inner literary genius in us shine through.

McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street; 212-274-1160.

Strand Bookstore: "Used" books really mean "loved" books. We come here to get our next reads at a discount. You can also find us picking up some recognizable Strand merch. Because reading is sexy.

Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway; 212-473-1452.

New York City Bar Association Library: Law reviews and state statutes don't exactly thrill us, but the surroundings of this library totally do. With large marble columns in the middle and spiral staircases leading to each level, this place is a secret gem.

New York City Bar Association Library, 42 W 44th Street; 212-382-6696.
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