You’re dragging yourself out of bed as the morning alarm shakes you awake. Have no fear, there is a cure for your zombie-like state. It’s Coffee! This miracle cure is derived from the berries of the Coffea plants (great article on how caffeine works). As you get ready for the day, you might wonder… why do plants make caffeine?
Caffeine is thought to be part of a plant’s chemical weaponry. Unlike us, plants can’t defend themselves or run away from danger. So, they rely on chemicals. Plants manufacture a number of chemicals to keep away certain forms of life and Caffeine is one of these chemicals.
Caffeine is naturally a strong antibiotic and can be toxic to numerous plants and insects. Because of this, caffeine is stored in special vacuoles (compartments inside the cell) to protect the host plant. When a leaf falls or is eaten, the caffeine is released. The released caffeine from decaying leaves, prevent other plants from growing near the caffeinated plant. Because of caffeine’s additional antibiotic and antifungal properties, these plants are also safe from numerous (but not all) bacteria and even fungi. (Source)