Drug tests can be an unfortunate part of life. Whether you found yourself in trouble with the law or you are being tested before landing your dream job, drug tests can be a nerve-wracking experience. The truth is, if you want to pass, you need to be covering all your bases. While not doing drugs is a great start, there are a few ways that the test can show up as a false positive even if you haven’t been using!
Many people express concern when it comes to drinking coffee before a drug test. This common myth has floated around in whisper campaigns over the years. Because caffeinated coffee is a natural stimulant, it makes sense that people would show concern about it showing up in a urine test. The truth is that in today’s modern age, the chances of getting a false positive are much lower than they used to be.
Compared to drug tests during the ’70s and ’80s, recent tests are much more sophisticated. Whereas previous tests used only to identify specific drugs in your urine – typically widespread drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin – new tests can test for dozens of substances at once. The number of chemicals they want to check you for and the amount of money they want to spend on testing you vary from situation to situation.
Back when these tests were less advanced, it is true that coffee could sometimes cause a false-negative  and show up as methamphetamine in your system. Luckily, those days are behind us. Over the years, the stories of these unfortunate and misleading results have continued to be passed down from generation to generation, keeping the myth alive and well up until this day. With modern technology, caffeine will not show up on a drug test as any other drug because newer tests easily distinguish between various chemical compounds.
Even So, There Are Still Dangers
Just because coffee won’t affect a drug test by showing up as another substance, it can still work against you if you drink too much. As with any other extreme amount of liquid consumption, drinking a lot of coffee before a test can severely dilute your sample. Coffee increases your metabolism  while still filling your bladder just like other liquids.
When your body operates on a higher level, you can find yourself urinating more. The more liquid you drink, the more you urinate, and the more diluted your sample gets. In other words, the more fluid is in your bladder, the less actual urine is coming out. These tests rely on that urine so they can test for substances that have been in your body. When the majority of your sample is coming out as a clear liquid, it can skew results, and they will not be happy about it. Most drug testers can see how clear the sample is, and if it is past a certain threshold of clearness, they will declare the sample to be void.
If you have even one diluted sample, this can be as good as a positive test in the eyes of some drug-testing companies. That’s why you should always watch how much you drink before you take a test. Even if you haven’t been using drugs, you could land in serious trouble if you panic and drink too many fluids before your test. No matter if the liquid is water, juice, soda, or coffee, they can all potentially cause a diluted test.
The root of whether or not you can drink coffee before a drug test stems from the coffee plant itself. Some people seem to believe that coffee comes from the coca plant. The confusion from this misconception is that the coca plant is the base root of cocaine. So people think cocaine will show up in the test. Well, put, coffee does not come from this plant.
Coffee comes from the Coffea plant,  which is an entirely different type of plant altogether. Even if it came from the coca plant, it wouldn’t show up as cocaine. The stimulant cocaine comes from the process of adding solvents and other chemicals to the plant, creating the drug we know today. An excellent example of this is chocolate. Chocolate comes from the coca plant, and it certainly will not show up on a drug test. You can rest assured knowing that coffee will not show up because it is an entirely different type of plant.
Just because coffee acts as a stimulant and comes with a certain degree of euphoria, doesn’t mean that it is a drug in the typical sense. Everything that makes you feel good doesn’t show up on a drug test. In fact, coffee can come in handy when passing a drug test because it can help clear out your system by raising your metabolism. But you need to be careful that you don’t overdo it.
If you do get all hopped up on caffeine, even if you pass the test, you can arouse suspicion based on your behavior. Jitteriness, sweating, nervousness, and dilated pupils are all possible if you drink too much caffeine. If you’re displaying these sorts of symptoms, you may appear like you’re on drugs even though you’re not. Such symptoms can result in a further investigation or even a potential retraction of your employment opportunity.
You’re safe to drink a couple of cups of coffee before your drug test. Coffee will not show up as another substance. And it is unlikely to dilute your urine sample as long as you don’t go overboard and drink five cups of it. As always, your best bet is to go about your regular daily routine, don’t drink too many fluids, and go into the test with a clean sample by not using illicit drugs.
‘False-positive’ and ‘false-negative’ test results in clinical urine drug testing: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21083064
What coffee does to your metabolism: https://www.bulletproof.com/diet/weight-loss/coffee-metabolism/
Coffea plant: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/coffea