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Insects are having sex in your coffee beans. Seriously.

Your coffee beans might have had these creatures having sex in them.
Your coffee beans might have had these creatures having sex in them.
(L. Shyamal/Wikimedia Commons)

See that cup of coffee you grabbed this morning?

That delicious, life-sustaining beverage comes from coffee beans. And before those beans were roasted, insects were having sex in them.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Insect Behavior, coffee berry borers (Hypothenemus hampei), which are native to Africa, spend a good deal of their lives in coffee beans, which means, writes Discovery News, "kinky sex takes place in many coffee beans before they are roasted."

As The Week points out, the sex is also incestuous sometimes. When females aren't reproducing through parthenogenesis (i.e. by herself) then they "have to be copulated by their sibling males before leaving the native coffee fruit to improve their chances of successful colonization," writes study co-author Weliton Dias Silva.

These insects, which are tiny beetles, are incredibly small, with the females averaging slightly larger lengths (.07 inches) than males (.06 inches). Because the males are smaller, they're called "dwarves."

So how do the insects find their way into the actual coffee beans? According to Discovery, they find their way into the beans "after sniffing out chemicals released by coffee plants." Females leave the beans at 15 days old, but males stick around, which means, yeah, your roasted coffee beans could have male insects in them.

If you're worried about using sex-ruined coffee beans, here are two tips for avoiding them. If the coffee beans seem more hollow than others, or if there are tiny, beetle-sized holes in them, avoid them. And if you like Arabica beans, find a new flavor because that seems to be the most infested bean.

Granted, writes The Week, you probably shouldn't be too worried about the sexual history of your coffee beans as most of the infected ones are taken off the market. That's good news for coffee-drinkers, but bad news for farmers. According to estimates from the USDA, these losses can add up to more than $500 million annually.

You can see a slide show about coffee berry borers over at Discovery News.

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