Many people consume coffee to attenuate increased sleepiness and impaired vigilance and attention due to insufficient sleep. We investigated in genetically caffeine sensitive individuals whether ‘real world’ coffee consumption during a simulated busy work week counteracts disabling consequences of chronically restricted sleep. We subjected homozygous C-allele carriers of ADORA2A (gene encoding adenosine A2A receptors) to 5 nights of only 5 h time-in-bed. We administered regular coffee (n = 12; 200 mg caffeine at breakfast and 100 mg caffeine after lunch) and decaffeinated coffee (n = 14) in double-blind fashion on all days following sleep restriction. At regular intervals 4 times each day, participants rated their sleepiness and performed the psychomotor vigilance test, the visual search task, and the visuo-spatial and letter n-back tasks. At bedtime, we quantified caffeine and the major caffeine metabolites paraxanthine, theobromine and theophylline in saliva. The 2 groups did not differ in age, body-mass-index, sex-ratio, chronotype and mood states. Subjective sleepiness increased in both groups across consecutive sleep restriction days and did not differ. By contrast, regular coffee counteracted the impact of repeated sleep loss on sustained and selective attention, as well as executive control when compared to decaffeinated coffee. The coffee induced benefits on different aspects of performance lasted for 4–5 days of insufficient sleep. All differences between the groups disappeared after the recovery night and the cessation of coffee administration. The data suggest that ‘real world’ coffee consumption can efficiently attenuate sleep restriction-induced impairments in vigilance and attention in genetically caffeine sensitive individuals.