New research from Dr Neil Caporaso and others suggests that addiction to coffee may be in the genes. The research splits coffee drinkers into two groups; the ‘high consumption’ gene coffee drinkers and the ‘low consumption’ gene coffee drinkers. Caporaso reports that genetics have an immense influence over an individual’s behaviours – resulting in whether a person will be a smoker or an alcoholic and from this research whether a person will consume high or low quantities of caffeine.
The research is based on investigations into a gene known to be essential in the human ability to absorb caffeine and a second gene that works to regulate the absorption process. It is the differences in these two genes, CYP1A2 and AHR, in individuals that results in the differences in the amount of caffeine consumed in terms of coffee drinking. High CYP12A and high AHR resulted in high caffeine intake while the opposite was found in individuals that had low CYP12A and AHR – consuming lower levels of caffeine.
The study also found that consumption of caffeine tended to come from drinking coffee in the majority of those people studied. In fact 90% of the global population consume caffeine from one of the forms available including coffee, chocolate, tea and of course cola – with coffee being the highest caffeine source in most instances.
The investigators concluded that craving caffeine to get that fix ‘is not random’ and down to inherited genetics. Some people will need one cup of coffee to get enough caffeine for the day and there will be others that will top up their caffeine amount throughout the day. The researchers also conclude that the caffeine genes are good genes; they are involved in metabolizing a number of different medicines and drugs and could eventually inform medical science about the way people react to different medical treatments.

Overall the research suggests that the intake of caffeine is safe – it can provide that all important boost to a person’s energy levels, motivation and well-being. The advice from Caporaso to those that are still uncertain about how much caffeine to consume daily was to ‘go read the research whilst enjoying a cup of coffee’ – we could not agree more. We advocate for coffee and its inherent benefits – and not only in terms of the science but in terms of the well-being it brings to our coffee growers and suppliers.