Coffee is an important contributor to an adult's exposure to furan, and related furans, such hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and furfural. These compounds arise at high levels during coffee roasting, however, the content in brewed coffee is highly variable. Potentially harmful effects of these furanic compounds result from activation to highly reactive nucleophiles that can react with DNA. On the other hand, antioxidant and cytoprotective effects of 5-HMF were described in several in vitro studies. No human studies are available concerning the cancer risks of furan and related compounds, but furan was found to induce liver tumours in rodents at low doses. However, due to the differences in species sensitivity, with the present scientific knowledge there are no certainties about the risks associated with exposure to furan and related furans. Since animal experiments indicate that the liver is the target organ for furan, HMF and furfural toxicity, epidemiological studies on potential association of coffee and hepatocellular carcinoma were examined and, surprisingly, an inverse association between coffee consumption and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma was found across different populations.