Human beings enjoy the flavor and stimulating activity of a cup of coffee without knowing that by doing so, they are part of a 'food web' and receive signals coffee plants build to improve their struggle for life. This review is centered in the first part on the purine alkaloid caffeine and its physiological role in the coffee plant's life cycle. Many of the thoughts and ideas presented here are plain speculation, because the real research revealing the secrets of plant physiology such as e.g. the formation of the coffee bean with all its ingredients, has just started. The recent achievements in molecular biology made it possible to tackle and answer new questions regarding the regulation of secondary metabolism in the coffee plant organs at selected stages of their development. Brazilian research groups have much contributed to the recent progress in molecular biology and physiology of coffee. Among them was Maro R. Söndahl, in commemoration of whom this article has been written. Thus, the second part reports on the very first steps Maro and I made together into a very new field of coffee, that is metabolite profiling. The outcome was amazing and gives an idea of the great potential of this technique to map in future the complex network of the coffee metabolom.
Endosperm; flower; germination; metabolite profiling; purine alkaloid; perisperm