What does your coffee order suggest about your personality? Scientifically speaking, not much.

Does your coffee order reveal a lot about your personality?

Many online articles, videos, and quizzes suggest that those who like black coffee are psychopaths, while those who love sugary lattes are just as sweet as their drink of choice.

However, the widespread claim that you can assume someone’s personality from their coffee order isn’t scientific at all. Personality tests that use your coffee preferences to predict your personality might be fun, but take these with a pinch of salt.

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Infographic by Bailey Mariner

Although a beverage preference might reveal a few things about a coffee drinker, personality isn’t necessarily one of them.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula conducted a survey of 1,000 people. The study involved testing various personality traits — like extroversion, warmth, and perfectionism — and also asked what coffee they’d usually order. Durvasula shared the results in her book, You Are WHY You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life.

Although Durvasula found a few similarities between people who share coffee preferences, she also wrote that “we are no more defined by our coffee orders than we are by our astrological signs.”

So, what exactly does your coffee order say about you? Nothing definitive, but there were some interesting findings.

Black coffee

Durvasula’s survey found that black coffee drinkers tended to be old-school and efficient but also set in their ways and prone to moodiness. They also tend to “keep things simple,” which makes sense when you consider that it’s a simple coffee order

Alternatively, you might prefer black coffee because of a dietary need or because you’re hoping to experience the health benefits of black coffee.

Lattes and cappucinos

If you like adding sugar, milk, and/or creamer to your coffee, you might be a people-pleaser, according to Durvasula’s survey.

Her survey found that latte drinkers were likely to be helpful, open, and generous. As with most people-pleasers, though, they might tend to overextend themselves and neglect their own needs.

Drinking coffee with milk also suggests that you’re not lactose intolerant — or that you are, and you’re simply risking it. Good luck with that!

Iced coffee

For blended or iced coffee drinkers, personality traits can include boldness and spontaneity, says Durvasula’s survey. Those who choose iced coffee might be childlike and imaginative, but also reckless — and they might often make unhealthy decisions.

Decaf, milk alternatives, and other specific orders

Durvasula’s survey found that participants who opted for very specific orders — such as choosing decaf coffee or milk alternatives — were more likely to be controlling, obsessive, and perfectionistic. On the upside, they were also more likely to make healthy choices.

However, there could also be a simpler explanation: they might have health conditions that require them to reduce their caffeine intake or avoid dairy.

Cooperative-grown coffee

Specialty coffee, such as those that are labeled “fair trade,” “cooperative-grown,” or “ethical,” can be more costly. A 2019 study found that extroverted and conscientious people were likelier to choose ethical coffee, even if it costs more.

On the other hand, those with higher levels of agency — that is, those who are more assertive and self-confident — had a lower willingness to pay for specialty coffee.

Instant coffee

Instant coffee drinkers tend to be laid back, according to Durvasula’s survey. However, they might also be poor planners or procrastinators.

A preference for instant coffee might be down to other variables, though — instant coffee is often cheaper and more easily accessible in certain countries, so your upbringing, thriftiness, and culture could also play a role.

As much as we’d like to think that a simple, visible thing like a coffee order can tell you all you need to know about someone’s personality, it can’t.

There are many different schools of thought on what personality is, how it develops, and how it is expressed. Although numerous personality tests exist, there is no universally accepted way to accurately measure personality — but if we did, it wouldn’t be based on coffee preferences.

As interesting as Durvasula’s survey is, it’s small and not scientifically rigorous. Plus, it doesn’t control for other factors that might influence your beverage preferences, like:

  • culture
  • upbringing
  • financial situation/willingness to pay
  • dietary requirements

A 2015 study involving a survey of 953 people examined whether taste preferences say anything about personality. The study concluded that participants who preferred bitter tastes were likelier to display everyday sadism and psychopathy traits.

Various media outlets exaggerated these claims. For example, Reader’s Digest ran a subhead that read, “Do you prefer your morning joe sans cream and sugar? Research says you’re probably a psychopath with sadistic tendencies.”

This isn’t exactly sound science. Firstly, the survey sample is relatively small and relied on self-reporting.

Secondly, the researchers found a (small) correlation between psychopathic traits and a preference for bitter foods — but this doesn’t mean that black coffee drinkers have personality disorders or that latte drinkers are inherently more empathetic and kind.

In a world where personality disorders are highly misunderstood and stigmatized, it’s important to think critically about the way the media misrepresents and overexaggerates the results of studies like these.

As with most foods and beverages, coffee can be both beneficial and detrimental to your health.

One review of studies found that large amounts of caffeine — equivalent to 5 cups of coffee — can induce panic attacks in most people who have panic disorder. It can also cause sleeplessness.

Lastly, caffeine is indeed addictive — and while it’s possible to break your coffee habit, you might experience caffeine withdrawal if you suddenly reduce your consumption.

Bad news, coffee drinkers: personality can’t be judged based on your coffee order.

Although those “what your coffee order says about you” quizzes might be fun, they’re definitely not scientific. The (boring) truth is that there’s limited evidence that coffee can predict personality.

It might be tempting to judge your date by their double-shot iced vanilla mocha, but you’ll probably be better off judging them on their actions and words.