Coffee is a relatively rich source of chlorogenic acids (CGA), which, as other polyphenols, have been postulated to exert preventive effects against CVD and type 2 diabetes. As a considerable proportion of ingested CGA reaches the large intestine, CGA may be capable of exerting beneficial effects in the large gut. Here, we utilise a stirred, anaerobic, pH-controlled, batch culture fermentation model of the distal region of the colon in order to investigate the impact of coffee and CGA on the growth of the human faecal microbiota. Incubation of coffee samples with the human faecal microbiota led to the rapid metabolism of CGA (4 h) and the production of dihydrocaffeic acid and dihydroferulic acid, while caffeine remained unmetabolised. The coffee with the highest levels of CGA (P< 0·05, relative to the other coffees) induced a significant increase in the growth of Bifidobacterium spp. relative to the control vessel at 10 h after exposure (P< 0·05). Similarly, an equivalent quantity of CGA (80·8 mg, matched with that in high-CGA coffee) induced a significant increase in the growth of Bifidobacterium spp. (P< 0·05). CGA alone also induced a significant increase in the growth of the Clostridium coccoides–Eubacterium
rectale group (P< 0·05). This selective metabolism and subsequent amplification of specific bacterial populations could be beneficial to host health.