BACKGROUND: The long-term longitudinal evidence for a relation between coffee intake and hypertension is relatively scarce. OBJECTIVE: The objective was to assess whether coffee intake is associated with the incidence of hypertension. DESIGN: This study was conducted on a cohort of 2985 men and 3383 women who had a baseline visit and follow-up visits after 6 and 11 y. Baseline coffee intake was ascertained with questionnaires and categorized into 0, >0-3, >3-6, and >6 cups/d. Hypertension was defined as a mean systolic blood pressure (SBP) >or=140 mm Hg over both follow-up measurements, a mean diastolic blood pressure (DBP) >or=90 mm Hg over both follow-up measurements, or the use of antihypertensive medication at any follow-up measurement. RESULTS: Coffee abstainers at baseline had a lower risk of hypertension than did those with a coffee intake of >0-3 cups/d [odds ratio (OR): 0.54; 95% CI: 0.31, 0.92]. Women who drank >6 cups/d had a lower risk than did women who drank >0-3 cups/d (OR: 0.67; 95% CI: 0.46, 0.98). Subjects aged >or=39 y at baseline had 0.35 mm Hg (95% CI: -0.59, -0.11 mm Hg) lower SBP per cup intake/d and 0.11 mm Hg lower DBP (95% CI: -0.26, 0.03 mm Hg) than did those aged <39 y at baseline, although the difference in DBP was not statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS: Coffee abstinence is associated with a lower hypertension risk than is low coffee consumption. An inverse U-shaped relation between coffee intake and risk of hypertension was observed in the women.