National Coffee Day is September 29th, and while you may be geared up for max caffeine intake, it’s important to know what type of coffee drinker you are. Have you ever heard a friend or coworker complain that no matter how much coffee they drink, it just doesn’t seem to make them less tired? Can you drink a full cup of coffee before bed and fall asleep immediately? As it turns out, this may be due to the fact that different people actually have different natural sensitivities to caffeine.

It’s all about metabolism

There are a few different types of coffee drinkers in the world, and understanding which type you are can help you understand how coffee affects you. As Dr. J.W. Langer, author of a report on the relationship between caffeine and genetics, explains, there are fast metabolizers and slow metabolizers, based on individual genetic variations. Fast metabolizers process caffeine quickly. Slow metabolizers process caffeine slowly, so caffeine stays in the body and brain longer, meaning that the effects of caffeine are stronger and longer lasting than with fast metabolizers.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the three types of coffee drinkers as outlined by Dr. Langer:

Type 1: High sensitivity to caffeine

If even a small amount of caffeine seems to get your blood pumping, you might have a high sensitivity to caffeine. You need less coffee to feel its stimulating effects and should avoid coffee before bed, as it can cause sleep problems. People who are slow metabolizers fall into this category.

Type 2: Regular sensitivity to caffeine

If you can drink 2-5 cups of coffee during the day without it affecting your ability to fall or stay asleep, you likely have a regular sensitivity to caffeine. While you shouldn’t drink caffeine in the evening if you want to maintain good sleeping habits, moderate caffeine consumption throughout the day should be fine for you.

Type 3: Low sensitivity to caffeine

If you can drink a cup of coffee before bed and have no trouble falling asleep, you probably have a low sensitivity to caffeine. Being a fast metabolizer of caffeine means that you can drink more caffeine without adverse effects, although professionals recommend that no one drink more than 5 cups a day.

So what determines caffeine metabolism?

As mentioned earlier, your type depends on your caffeine metabolism. There are a number of factors that can affect your caffeine metabolism in addition to genetic variations, such as age, gender, alcohol intake, dietary factors, liver diseases, and dietary factors. This means that you might notice your sensitivity to caffeine changing over time, though you are unlikely to go from Type 1 to Type 3 or vice versa.

What does this mean for you?

While there are three major types of coffee drinkers, every person processes and metabolizes caffeine in a different way. As long as you pay attention to how your body responds to caffeine and moderate your intake accordingly, you should be able to enjoy your coffee without a problem. It is likely that you already do this; as Dr. Langer says in his report, “Generally speaking, most individuals tend to consume only the amount of caffeine that they feel comfortable with.”  

No matter what type of coffee drinker you are, grab a cup full on September 29th and celebrate National Coffee Day. Show us what you’re drinking in your office by using the hashtag #fuelinggreatwork.