Coffee (Coffea arabica L.) has been traditionally considered as shade-demanding, although it performs well without shade and even out-yields shaded coffee. Here we investigated how coffee plants adjust their metabolic machinery to varying light supply and whether these adjustments are supported by a reprogramming of the primary and secondary metabolism. We demonstrate that coffee plants are able to adjust its metabolic machinery to high light conditions through marked increases in its antioxidant capacity associated with enhanced consumption of reducing equivalents. Photorespiration and alternative pathways are suggested to be key players in reductant-consumption under high light conditions. We also demonstrate that both primary and secondary metabolism undergo extensive reprogramming under high light supply, including depression of the levels of intermediates of the tricarboxylic acid cycle that were accompanied by an up-regulation of a range of amino acids, sugars and sugar alcohols, polyamines and flavonoids such as kaempferol and quercetin derivatives. When taken together, the entire dataset is consistent with these metabolic alterations being primarily associated with oxidative stress avoidance rather than representing adjustments in order to facilitate the plants from utilizing the additional light to improve their photosynthetic performance.