Coffee Can Actually Make You Drunk! Here's How Many Cups It Takes

Can coffee make you drunk? Well... Yes, yes it can.

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A very funny thing happens to me when I drink coffee. If I don't drink one cup when I wake up, I'm a zombie like most people I know. But if I have more than two (and sometimes just one and a half) I feel wired, giddy, silly, and hyperactive.

It's a lot like being drunk, right down to the crash once it wears off and the feelings of shame and embarrassment at my coffee-fuelled antics.

I thought maybe I was just ultra-sensitive to the effects of coffee. Nothing too crazy about that. I mean, coffee didn't make my breasts smaller, but I'm definitely sensitive to it. I know a few other people who are also sensitive to the effects of their morning coffee.


But, as it turns out, drinking too much coffee may give the same effects as being drunk.

RELATED: Why The 'Drunk You' May Actually Be The Real You

Can coffee make you drunk?

In short, yes.

Most medical professionals will tell you to limit your caffeine intake to 400mg a day. That translates into four cups of coffee in a 24-hour period. (I'm a java hound and even I acknowledge that it would be hard for me to ingest more than four cups in a day.)


But when someone mentioned a thing called caffeine intoxication, it all started to make sense to me. It would take eight cups of coffee to give the average person that "drunk" feeling.

Caffeine intoxication (a very real psychiatric disorder) doesn't usually take effect until a person has ingested 1000mg of caffeine, and usually in one sitting.

So what's going on with me and my coffee-sensitive friends every time we have a cup of coffee and feel like we've been out partying at the bar all night long?

Why do some people feel 'drunk' when they drink too much coffee?

Your genetics

It turns out, it might be that I was just born this way — and that could be the case for you, too.


A 2018 study examined the DNA of 3,000 devoted coffee drinkers. They discovered that (in addition to being real jerks in the morning) some people in the study had a variation of a gene called PDSS2.

Now, that might sound like a fancy kind of video gaming console, but it's not. PDSS2 reduces the body's ability to break down caffeine.

That means the caffeine that's already in your system is going to still be there when you have your second cup of coffee, your third, and your fourth.

RELATED: Your Coffee Addiction Will Make You Live Longer, Says Science

So while everyone else is processing their caffeine like a normal adult, you're most likely racing around the room, because your DNA is holding on to every sip of caffeine you take and holding on to it for some higher, unforeseeable purpose.


Your taste buds

Another potential thing that could be sending you into a drunken-feeling tailspin? Some scientists believe that our taste buds are to blame.

Because bitter tastes were originally perceived to be threatening to early humans, the reaction of giddiness or dizziness to overly bitter tastes like coffee could be a holdover from long ago, when your taste buds could have been sending messages to your body that danger was near.

Whatever the reason, there's one solution: slow down your coffee consumption.


If you're getting the shakes after one cup of coffee, drink half that amount. If you're that sensitive to caffeine, cutting back is still the best option.

It's either that or switch to decaf.

RELATED: The Best Time Of Day To Drink Coffee, According To Science

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a freelance writer, editor, former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek, and former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango. She has a passion for lifestyle, geek news, and true crime topics. Her bylines have appeared on Fatherly, Bustle, SheKnows, Jezebel, and many others.