Farming Caffeine Through The Coffee Brew

Coffee: The world’s favorite mildly addicting beverage has been the subject to many studies over the years. Some of these studies herald coffee as the second coming whose benefits are wonderful and forthcoming while others declare the drink to be the carefully crafted brew by the lord of the underworld itself.  Whether you sip in sin or delight is of little consequence considering the effects of this seemingly mystical beverage.

IN THE BREWGINNING.. (sorry the microphone was set a bit loud) Coffee is best grown on farms in between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn on the planet Earth.  Brazil is the number one producer of coffee beans boasting about 1/3 of the worlds coffee production. In 2011, Brazilian coffee farms produced a whopping 2.7 million metric tonnes (1 tonne= 2204.6 lbs) of coffee beans. Brazil has been at the top of the coffee business for about 150 years with Vietnam and Columbia acting as consistent runners up. Their efforts to grow coffee plants give the world that “best part of waking up” feeling every morning.

The coffea arabica and coffea canephora plants account for almost all the worlds coffee “beans.” The main fruit of the coffea plant is actually an epigynous berry. This means that the berry grew from what herbalists deem an inferior ovary and developed with bits of the plant as well as the ovary. Theses cherries are pitted, dried, shelled, ground, roasted, mixed with some hot water, poured into a cup, and then poured into your belly. Throughout the process there are quite a lot of variations which can be implemented. Time, temperature, and quantity are all tweaked in order to achieve the perfect brew. The effects of this perfect brew are myriad and manifold.

Related Article: Beans, Cool! What Makes Beans so Great?

So now that the coffee has reached your digestive system and is being dispersed what happens to your body? Well caffeine, the mind altering constituent in coffee, has a conveniently clever shape which allows it to manipulate certain receptors in your brain and spinal cord. The reason why it is so clever is because of how similar the build of caffeine is to adenosine.

Adenosine plays many roles inside the human body. From Livestrong.com:

Your body makes adenosine from a combination of a nitrogen-based substance called adenine and a sugar called ribose. In addition to its designation as a neurotransmitter, adenosine belongs to a class of chemicals called xanthines. Every cell in your body contains some adenosine inside its DNA and RNA; it is also found in the energy source adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, and related chemicals called adenosine diphosphate, or ADP, and adenosine monophosphate, or AMP. In addition, adenosine acts as a natural painkiller, helps widen your blood vessels and helps steady your heartbeat.

Adenosine is a byproduct of firing neurons and adenosine receptors help gauge just how much adenosine is in your brain and spinal cord. Once this level reaches a certain point, the process of “drifting toward sleep”– or in my case “falling asleep immediately”– begins. So caffeine, being similar in shape to adenosine, is able to bind to these receptors without actually activating them.
This binding of adenosine receptors notifies the pituitary glands that there is “a pressing emergency.” The pituitary glands then call the adrenal glands– for the regular conversation of inner-body gland gossip– and say “Hey, you know all that adrenaline you’ve been hoarding… now is the time!” The adrenal glands are like “WAR!!!” and release their precious epinephrine (aka adrenaline) into the bloodstream. This plugging up of adenosine receptors also allows the dopamine and glutamate to get busy with less friction.
But, what’s most important, is that caffeine is not some magic drug that makes you more efficient or more skilled. Caffeine quickly brings the abilities of the brain to it’s normal state. It cannot facilitate “better thought,” rather it allows the user to think and act quickly. Simply stated: Caffeine improves speed not skill.

So from tropical farms to deep inside the annals of the body the effects of coffee are extremely widespread. Considered to be one of the greatest economic commodities, second only to oil, it is no small wonder the sheer volume of information available about coffee. So the next time you take a sip, take a trip through the whole process. Taste the beans from the start to the finish and truly appreciate the global and bodily effects of your morning potion.

And, as with all drugs, you should use caffeine with awareness and responsibility.

Sources:

http://brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/alcohol,_tobacco,_&_other_drugs/caffeine.php

http://treesandshrubs.about.com/od/glossaryofcommonterms/g/epigynousberry.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigynous_berry#Modified_berries

http://lifehacker.com/5585217/what-caffeine-actually-does-to-your-brain

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epinephrine

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