Retrospective studies suggest that coffee consumption may exert beneficial effects in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver; however, prospective data supporting a protective role on liver steatosis development are lacking. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the association between coffee consumption and fatty liver onset in the general population. The analysis was performed both in a cross-sectional cohort (n = 347) and, prospectively, in a subcohort of patients without fatty liver at baseline and followed-up for 7 years (n = 147). Fatty liver was diagnosed with abdominal ultrasound and liver steatosis was quantified noninvasively by hepatorenal index (HRI) and SteatoTest, whereas FibroTest was used to assess fibrosis degree. A structured questionnaire on coffee consumption was administrated during a face-to-face interview. Neither the incidence nor the prevalence of fatty liver according to ultrasonography, SteatoTest, and the HRI was associated with coffee consumption. In the cross-sectional study, high coffee consumption was associated with a lower proportion of clinically significant fibrosis ≥F2 (8.8% vs 16.3%; P = 0.038); consistently, in multivariate logistic regression analysis, high coffee consumption was associated with lower odds for significant fibrosis (odds ratio = 0.49, 95% confidence interval, 0.25-0.97; P = 0.041) and was the strongest predictor for significant fibrosis. No association was demonstrated between coffee consumption and the new onset of nonalcoholic fatty liver, but coffee intake may exert beneficial effects on fibrosis progression.