If your love of coffee has ever made you wish you could curl up inside a coffee bean and live out the rest of your days in caffeine bliss, then this caffeine-addicted beetle is living out your dream. Unfortunately it is at a huge cost for coffee growers. According to the Washington Post, there is a species of beetle that is ruining coffee crops around the world by not only eating the beans, but burrowing inside them and creating a home for themselves.
The beetle's ability to cut crop yields by 80 percent has the coffee industry worried. The caffeine-loving bug — known as the coffee berry borer — is common to Central Africa, but is now popular anywhere where coffee is grown. Normally, caffeine serves as a natural pesticide and large doses can usually prove fatal for small insects. However, this particular type of beetle can withstand the equivalent of 500 shots of espresso consumed by 150-pound man. This is due to the fact that the beetle has 14 different bacterial species in its digestive tract that allows it to break down the caffeine before it can be harmed.
This does not bode well for the caffeine obsessed: Could this be the end to our limitless supply of coffee? Without it, what would nude baristas put their Nestlé creamer in? What would the world print Justin Bieber portraits on?
Scientists who deeply understand the importance of coffee are trying to come up with a way to decrease the overwhelming beetle population without the use of harmful pesticides. One Berkeley scientist, Javier Ceja-Navaro, stated in a study published by Nature Communications that they can combat the problem by developing "a way to disrupt the bacteria and make caffeine as toxic to this pest as it is to other insects." Yet another possible solution — according to a 2014 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — may be to plant more trees surrounding the coffee crops to help reduce the coffee berry borer population.
For a more elaborate explanation, check out the video below by Berkeley Lab.