On average, around 26,000 cups of coffee and drunk per second around the world. For a fair few such as myself, we drink coffee for the bold and complex flavours that can come from the wonderful coffee bean. But for the largest demographic, they will drink coffee for its natural benefit of being highly caffeinated. We have all been there. Tired and groggy, first thing in the morning, in desperate need for that little surge of early morning energy. And naturally we reach for our favourite home brewing method to start our day, or make sure to swing past our favourite local coffee shop on our way in to work to start the day right. It’s a great natural way to get the extra energy boost for the day, but many will never sit back and actually wonder why coffee is naturally caffeinated.
As much as caffeine is an incredible stimulant, in the natural world it has many other primary uses. The biggest of these is as a form of natural pest control. In the areas where coffee grows most successfully, pests such as insects like the Coffee Borer Beetle have been known to eat away and destroy the coffee plants. Caffeine however, is very toxic to a large majority of pests that would usually destroy the plant, which in turn helps ward off any other pests from coming and ruining the plants and the harvest. This is also why Robusta varieties of coffee have a naturally larger caffeine content. Robusta plants are generally grown in lower altitudes where pests are more likely to occur, the plants natural evolution helped it produce more caffeine as a way to make sure that the leaves and cherries aren’t destroyed.
Caffeine is also used to control the surrounding ground from being poached by other plants that could cause damage to the coffee plant. When coffee leaves die and fall to the ground, they contaminate the soil with caffeine, which makes it difficult for other plants to germinate. Coffee may thus use caffeine to kill off the competition.
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