The effect of coffee consumption on functional disability has been scarcely investigated. Thus, this study aimed to examine the association between coffee consumption and functional disability in older American adults. Participants (≥60 years old, n 7704) were from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007–2016. Coffee consumption was assessed through two 24-h dietary recall interviews. Five domains of functional disability including lower extremity mobility (LEM), general physical activity (GPA), leisure and social activities (LSA), activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) were self-reported. Age- and multivariate-adjusted logistic regression models and restricted cubic spline analyses were used. Total coffee consumption was inversely associated with LEM, GPA, LSA and IADL disability. Compared with non-drinkers of total coffee, those who consumed ≥2 cups/d reported lower odds of LEM (OR 0·67, 95 % CI 0·50, 0·91), GPA (OR 0·65, 95 % CI 0·47, 0·88), LSA (OR 0·61, 95 % CI 0·45, 0·83) and IADL (OR 0·59, 95 % CI 0·44, 0·78) disability. The dose–response analyses confirmed these relationships. Intake of ≥2 cups/d caffeinated coffee was also inversely linked to GPA (OR 0·67, 95 % CI 0·48, 0·92), LSA (OR 0·66, 95 % CI 0·46, 0·93) and IADL (OR 0·57, 95 % CI 0·43, 0·75) disability, whereas the inverse association of 2+ cups/d decaffeinated coffee was only on LEM (OR 0·43, 95 % CI 0·23, 0·81) and LSA (OR 0·39, 95 % CI 0·16, 0·94) disability. The present study suggested that coffee consumption was inversely associated with functional disability in older American adults. Those associations of diverse coffee types differed across domains of functional disability.