Inconsistency of Association between Coffee Consumption and Cognitive Function in Adults and Elderly in a Cross-Sectional Study (ELSA-Brasil)

Nutrients. 2015 Nov 19;7(11):9590-601. doi: 10.3390/nu7115487.


Background: Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide and the effect on cognition appears to be task specific and vary by age.

Method: In cohort of 14,563 public service workers (35-74 years old) we assessed coffee consumption habits and examined cognitive function using standardized neuropsychological test battery. By linear regression and generalize linear regression with logarithmic link and gamma distribution we investigated the relation of coffee consumption (never/almost never, ≤1 cup/day, 2-3 cups/day, ≥3 cups/day) in the last 12 months to performance on specific domains of cognition for adults and elderly separately.

Results: Among elderly, after adjustments, coffee consumption was associated only with an increase in the mean words remembered on learning, recall, and word recognition tests when comparing the 2-3 cups/day to never/almost never category (arithmetic mean ratio (AMR): 1.03; 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.00 to 1.07), and to an increase in the mean words pronounced in semantic verbal fluency test when comparing the ≥3 cups/day to never/almost never category (difference of the mean: 1.23; 95% CI: 0.16 to 2.29). However, coffee consumption was not associated with any cognitive function tests in adults and also was not associated with the phonemic verbal fluency test and trail-making test B in elderly.

Conclusions: RESULTS suggest that coffee consumption might be slightly beneficial to memory in elderly but lacks a dose response relationship. Longitudinal analyses are needed to investigate possible, even if subtle, positive effects of coffee drinking on specific cognitive domains in elderly.

Keywords: coffee consumption; cognitive function tasks; diet bioactive compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brazil
  • Coffee*
  • Cognition*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Coffee