Though there are several different discovery myths that different cultures have handed down through generations, one of the most prevalent and popular tells us that an Ethiopian shepherd was walking his flocks over a large expanse of land when they approached some strange green shrubby bushes with red buds all over them.
His curious sheep walked over and started eating the leaves and red coffee berries. Not long after they started, they were hopping all over the place and running in strange patterns as if electrified. The shepherd sampled enough of the berries himself to discover what the buzz was all about.
In Kona, Hawaii, one of the few places in the states where coffee is grown, coffee trees and shrubs thrive in cooled volcanic rock and volcanic soil. There are entire coffee farms that feature entire plantation sections of healthy coffee trees rooted in cooled magma soil.
Caffeine is actually a potent neurotoxin that the coffee plant produces in order to fight off insects that would otherwise consume the plant and its berries. Caffeine acts as a lethal nerve poison which kills small bugs that try to ingest it. Humans just happen to be large enough that the same compound which makes coffee lethal to insects, 1-3-7-tri-methyl-xanthine, is little more than a mild to moderate stimulant for us.
Also contrary to popular belief, caffeine is not a direct stimulant that speeds up our circuits; it is instead an indirect stimulant that works by blocking our neurons from accepting adenosine, a neurotransmitter which serves as a braking system; essential for sleeping and resting. In so doing, caffeine actually just makes it impossible for us to slow down, during the period in which caffeine is active in our blood.
Adenosine will be familiar to those chemistry-minded readers who recall that ATP, one of the most universal units of energy in carbon based life, stands for adenosine-tri-phosphate. As our brains and bodies use energy, they break down the chain of ATP, removing phosphates until we are left with simple adenosine; bed time!
That's not at all to say that caffeine is perfectly safe for human use. Much the opposite, it is possible to hurt yourself by drinking far too much caffeine far too often. At doses of around 10g of caffeine, an ingestor can expect potentially lethal heart palpitations.
Other health experts and researches have pointed out that chronic coffee drinking or caffeine abuse can lead to exhaustion and dehydration because caffeine is a diuretic which causes intense urinary flushing. It is possible to lose a critical amount of important vitamins and minerals this way.