Is Kratom Really in The Coffee Family?

Kratom belongs to the coffee family, also known as the Rubiaceae family. It comes from the Mitragyna speciosa tree, famous for promoting feelings of relaxation, sedation, and stimulant-like effects.

Scientists categorize plants in the same family if they have many genetically comparable traits. So while two plants may look different, they may be biologically related. Below, you’ll learn the unique traits of coffee family plants, notable plants in the family, and the common uses of kratom.

The coffee family boasts over 13,500 plant species and more than 600 genera. Given the coffee family’s vast number of plant species, you’d notice endless differences among them. Yet, coffee family plants share a few unique traits that make them distinguishable. These distinct traits include the following:

  • Tubular corollas from which the stamens broaden.
  • Whorled leaves are three or more evenly spaced leaves from each node.
  • Interpetiolar stipules mean leaf-like appendages extending from the stem between two petioles.

Most coffee family plants are shrubby or woody trees, such as Mitragyna speciosa and coffee Arabica trees. But a few others are non-woody angiosperms (flowering plants).

The Common Uses of Kratom

As a member of the coffee family, kratom is highly versatile and has many uses. Depending on the balance of alkaloid content, kratom may produce the following:

An Energy-boosting Effect

Kratom delivers a burst of energy that keeps users active, motivated, and focused for several hours.

The Noradrenaline system is responsible for energy production. The flight or fight response you experience when scared or stressed results from adrenergic stimulation.

Kratom’s mitragynine alkaloid binds to the noradrenaline system and tricks the body into producing a rush of energy for a sustained period. If you’re looking for something to help you start your day on a high note or power you across the day, kratom might be what you need.

Mood Booster

Kratom also interacts with the dopamine system in the brain. Dopamine is also known as the pleasure hormone. It regulates various functions in the body, like your appetite, mood, motivation, and libido.

Kratom interacts with the brain’s opioid receptors to produce a dopamine surge. The effects include improved mood, happiness, and sense of motivation. This may be a benefit for users handling repetitive or mentally taxing tasks.

image of the uses of kratom

Nootropic Effects

Kratom’s ability to increase energy and improve mood and motivation stems from its nootropic profile. At lower doses, kratom users may experience improved cognitive function in terms of better focus and concentration, creative thinking, alertness, and memory. You can use the supplement to study or work for longer hours.


Kratom strains with high levels of the alkaloid 7-hydroxy mitragynine produce relaxation and sedation effects.

Fatigue often causes your muscles to constrict and stiffen. Kratom may help to relax your muscles and boost blood flow. The plant also eradicates taxing thoughts and feelings troubling your mind. With a clear mind, you can relax and unwind after a long day.

Other Notable Members of the Coffee Family

Apart from kratom, what other popular plants belong to the Coffee family?


The coffee plant is arguably the most well-known member of this family. The primary alkaloid in coffee is caffeine, which contributes to the stimulating effects associated with coffee.

There are other alkaloids like theobromine and theophylline present in coffee. But they are not as strong as caffeine.


It is a popular ornamental plant used widely across America for its sweet-smelling properties.

image of other noteable members of coffee family

Carapichea ipecacuanha

This plant species also belongs to the coffee family. It produces ipecac, a substance that induces vomiting. Ipecac is used in poison control.


You’ve probably heard of quinine. It comes from the bark of Cinchona tree species, a genus of the coffee family. Quinine is popularly used as a treatment for malaria.

The Question of Alkaloids

Different coffee family members may have different effects on the user. This is because they’re made up of different alkaloids that act on different receptors in the body to produce different effects.

Research on kratom reveals that it has over 40 different alkaloids. Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine produce the effects you may experience after consuming kratom.

  • Mitragynine: It is the most abundant alkaloid in kratom. It accounts for about 66% of the total alkaloid concentration in kratom. The level of mitragynine varies depending on different factors, including the harvesting time, type of kratom strain, and growing conditions. Green and white vein kratom strains tend to have high mitragynine levels.
  • 7-hydroxy mitragynine: It┬ámakes up only 2% of the total alkaloid concentration. Red vein kratom strains usually have higher concentrations of 7-hydroxy mitragynine than any other strain.

The Bottom Line

Kratom belongs to the massive coffee family, which contains over 13,000 plant species. Other notable members include coffee, gardenia, cinchona, and geraniums. Plants in the family share unique traits, which include whorled leaves, interpetiolar stipules, and tubular flowers.

The effects of kratom are attributed to its primary alkaloids, namely mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. Depending on your dosage and strain, you might get a wide range of effects, such as stimulation, relaxation, and an improved mood. You can consume kratom as powder, brewed tea, capsules, tinctures, or raw kratom leaf.

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