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From this site:

The bracha one recites over a pleasant fragrance depends on its source. If the fragrance comes from a produce that is fit to eat, whether it’s the fruit of a tree or of the ground, even if the fruit is unfit to eat on its own like a lemon, nevertheless since its primary purpose is to be eaten, the bracha is “haNosein reiach tov b’peiros,” that G-d places a pleasing smell in the fruit. (Mishnah Brurah 216:9 favors the alternate text, “asher nasan reiach tov b’peiros,” in the past tense.) One only says the bracha if he intended to smell the fruit. If he meant to eat it and smelled it incidentally, one does not recite a bracha. One says this bracha when enjoying the scent of roasted coffee beans.

Does this blessing apply only when smelling the actual fruit or would it apply to smelling vapors that may be mixed with other items or during a cooking process? Some examples - Should you say this bracha when:

  • Entering a Starbucks (well, technically, any coffee shop or even your kitchen), you are smelling the coffee as it's being brewed. I.e., you are most likely smelling the coffee vapor / steam, rather than the coffee fruit, itself.

  • The smell of beer comes from the vapors emitted during the brewing process. Beer vapors probably have a mix of alcohol from the yeasts (not considered a fruit, AFAIK) as well as hops and barley, which are fruits / veg. Should you say the bracha when in a microbrewery?

  • Smelling fried onions, French fries, sautéed garlic, etc.

  • Coffee while it is being roasted (if you're far away enough from the smoke)

  • Why do you think not? – ezra May 29 '18 at 17:53
  • @ezra Please refer to the last paragraph. If that's specifically what you're questioning, then, my explanation is simply that perhaps vapor is not considered the fruit, itself. In the case of beer, the smell is a mixture, and I'm assuming that the majority of what you smell is alcohol and not the smell of the barley or hops. These types of questions, I guess, could be extended to cooked veggies, e.g. cooked onions or garlics. – DanF May 29 '18 at 18:18
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Taking coffee as an example, there is a responsa and halachic literature whether one says a blessing on a cup of coffee (i.e., coffee vapor rather than ground coffee beans).

The conclusion is that one does not say a blessing when entering a coffeeshop unless one goes there to smell the coffee. The issue is not one of fruit vs. vapor but one of intention to smell the fruit or not. If one has the intention, one can make a blessing even on the (fruit smell) vapor according to certain poskim.

dinonline.org writes

It is fine to take a whiff and to recite a blessing on the scent. This is only the case where you take the coffee and intentionally take a whiff to enjoy the scent, and not where you smell the coffee inadvertently while drinking.

Halachayomit writes

Kaf Ha’Chaim writes one should not recite a blessing on the pleasant scent emanating from hot coffee, for the aroma is not that enjoyable that one would be obligated to recite a blessing on it.

On the other hand, most Acharonim, including the Perach Shoshan, Yad Aharon, and others, are of the opinion that one must recite a blessing on the pleasant smell emanating from coffee. They write that the correct blessing for this is “Ha’Noten Re’ach Tov Ba’Perot.” [...]

R Ovadia Yosef concludes that if one recites a blessing on the pleasant smell emanating from coffee when one intends to specifically smell it indeed has on whom to rely, for this is the opinion of most Poskim.

Of course, CYLOR before following anything you read here.


Added by DF:

There is a debate as to whether one should make a bracha when smelling food as it is being cooked or baked (e.g. onions, garlic, as mentioned, in my question.) See this answer.

  • +1. I'm assuming that the term perot applies to vegetables, also? If I'm wrong, inform me, please. The vague area coming from my question is the microbrewery. I think I have to read a bit about the "science" of beer-making. I think most of what you smell is alcohol from yeast and not the fruit. – DanF May 30 '18 at 13:41
  • Does perot apply to vegetables? Well, pri haadama is a vegetable. But in the blessing hanoten reah tov leperot the meaning is on fruit not vegetables (do vegetables have an odor? I'm not sure). No concerns on your addition, thanks for it! – mbloch May 30 '18 at 14:33
  • I'm not sure if the term perot is specifically pri ha'etz. I won't delve into the English definition that distinguishes between "fruit" and "vegetable" - I'm unclear about that, myself. But, if halachically, perot would include adama, then, to answer your question "do vegetables have an odor?" - of course they do! Pineapples, for example. Come to think of it, among the odorous veggies are scallions, onions, garlics, some types of lettuce and sometimes corn. – DanF May 30 '18 at 15:13

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