British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Metabolism and Metabolic Studies

Plasma appearance and correlation between coffee and green tea metabolites in human subjects

Mathieu Renoufa1 c1, Philippe Guya1, Cynthia Marmeta1, Karin Longeta1, Anne-Lise Fraeringa1, Julie Moulina1, Denis Barrona1, Fabiola Dionisia1, Christophe Cavina1, Heike Steilinga1 and Gary Williamsona1

a1 Nestlé Research Center, Nestec Limited, Vers-Chez-Les-Blanc, 1000 Lausanne 26, Switzerland


Coffee and green tea are two of the most widely consumed hot beverages in the world. Their respective bioavailability has been studied separately, but absorption of their respective bioactive phenolics has not been compared. In a randomised cross-over design, nine healthy subjects drank instant coffee and green tea. Blood samples were collected over 12 h and at 24 h to assess return to baseline. After green tea consumption, ( − )-epigallocatechin (EGC) was the major catechin, appearing rapidly in the plasma; ( − )-EGC gallate (EGCg) and ( − )-epicatechin (EC) were also present, but ( − )-EC gallate and C were not detected. Dihydroferulic acid and dihydrocaffeic acid were the major metabolites that appeared after coffee consumption with a long time needed to reach maximum plasma concentration, suggesting metabolism and absorption in the colon. Other phenolic acid equivalents (caffeic acid (CA), ferulic acid (FA) and isoferulic acid (iFA)) were detected earlier, and they peaked at lower concentrations. Summations of the plasma area under the curves (AUC) for the measured metabolites showed 1·7-fold more coffee-derived phenolic acids than green tea-derived catechins (P = 0·0014). Furthermore, we found a significant correlation between coffee metabolites based on AUC. Inter-individual differences were observed, but individuals with a high level of CA also showed a correspondingly high level of FA. However, no such correlation was observed between the tea catechins and coffee phenolic acids. Correlation between AUC and maximum plasma concentration was also significant for CA, FA and iFA and for EGCg. This implies that the mechanisms of absorption for these two classes of compounds are different, and that a high absorber of phenolic acids is not necessarily a high absorber of catechins.

(Received March 16 2010)

(Revised May 25 2010)

(Accepted June 02 2010)

(Online publication August 09 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr M. Renouf, fax +41 21 785 94 86, email


Abbreviations: AUC, area under the curve; Cmax, maximum plasma concentration; CA, caffeic acid; FA, ferulic acid; iFA, isoferulic acid; DHCA, dihydrocaffeic acid; DHFA, dihydroferulic acid; EC, ( − )-epicatechin; EGC, ( − )-epigallocatechin; EGCg, ( − )-EGC gallate; Tmax, time needed to reach maximum plasma concentration