Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health discovered six “coffee genes” after reviewing 28 previous studies on the genetic makeup of more than 120,000 coffee drinkers. They compared each person’s genetics to how much coffee they said they regularly drank each day.
“Out of 2.5 million variants in the genome, we found a handful that were strongly linked to coffee consumption. Two other genes appear linked to the kick that a person receives from caffeine. These genes are tied to the brain’s pleasure centers and likely influence the amount of stimulation or enjoyment that caffeine provides,” Marilyn Cornelis says in the article.
Two of the genes are related to the way a person’s body metabolizes caffeine, the study reports. This indicates that the genes might affect the brain process that senses blood glucose levels, which may, in turn, influence a person’s response to caffeine.
The final two genes “were really unexpected,” Cornelis says. Those genes previously have been linked to metabolism of fats and sugars, and they had not been suspected as influencing the body’s response to coffee.
“Individuals who consume larger quantities of coffee may metabolize caffeine more quickly than others, and this could be due to their genetic makeup,” according to Poole, another researcher who participated in the study. He warns that while these specific genes respond to caffeine, there likely are other factors that influence a person’s love of coffee.
“It would not be correct to conclude that coffee consumption is driven solely by genetic responses to caffeine. There are many bioactive compounds in coffee that could determine coffee consumption,” she says.
The article was published in the Molecular Psychiatry journal, 10/7/2014.