History Know The Person Who Discovered Caffeine - Friedlieb Ferdinand...

Know The Person Who Discovered Caffeine – Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge


Freidlieb Ferdinand Runge is a German scientist who is best known for his discovery of chemical caffeine and first coal tar dye. Caffeine is the reason that coffee is considered as a superfood. Runge also continued his studying the coffee’s effect on the human brain and body. 

Person Who Discovered Caffeine - Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge

One fascinating trivia about his birth is that he was born on February 9, 1794, and during the same week, U. S. Senate held its first public meeting, France abolished slavery, and the iconic symphony in E by Joseph Haydn premiered.  He was born on February 8, 1794, lived for 73 years, and died on March 25, 1867.

Runge spent his childhood in Hamburg, Germany, which was declared as a ‘Free Imperial City’ in 1189 and has permission to set his own laws and regulations. It was a pleasant city with full of coffeehouses and churches. Coffee was usually preferred by upper classes. 

The major discovery by Runge was the dangerous poison belladonna, commonly known as deadly nightshade. This poison causes eyes to dilate with many other side effects like blurred vision, dry mouth, fever, red dry skin, inability to urinate or sweat, fast heartbeat, mental problems, spasms, convulsions, and even coma. Runge used Belladonna to dilate the eye pupils. 

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Runge started to investigate the effects of caffeine on the human body when he received a packet of coffee by Goethe. Goethe was the famous author of the 19th century ‘The Sorrows of Young Werther.’

Runge used to teach chemistry at the University of Breslau. The university was destroyed by Napoleon who was obsessed with coffee. The contemporary observers presented the facts that Napoleon used to drink coffee at all hours to invigorate his body and revive his spirits. 

He left his teaching position, and Runge started working for a chemical manufacturer for about 21 years. Runge was not in good terms with his manager and later on, he was dismissed from the job without severance. 

Runge died in poverty after 15 years later when he was terminated from the job in the chemical manufacturer. Runge is memorialized by a statue in Oranienburg city that depicts him before some chemical equipment. 

Another fact about his life is that, during 1934, Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was one of the first scientists who was capable to isolate quinine. Quinine is used to cure Malaria. 

When did Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge discover caffeine?

It was in 1819, Runge discovered the chemical caffeine. Caffeine was used as a recreational and medicinal drug before the history of caffeine was recorded as consumption of caffeine bearing plants. However, the discovery of chemical caffeine didn’t occur in the young physician’s mind until he purified the white crystalline substance. 

How did Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge discover coffee?

Runge was studying under the world-famous chemist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his young days. He was 25 then and he was asked to demonstrate the effects of Belladonna to other students in the class. He did so and impressed Goethe during the process. He got the bag of rare coffee beans as a gift and was tole to analyze the chemical compound of the coffee beans. 

After some research and experiments, Runge was successful to isolate caffeine. He was successful to identify a decaf from a caffeinated drink that allowed people to drink coffee and escape the buzz afterward. 

The experiment has revolutionized the coffee drinks as there were many recipes were available for coffee. It includes the invention of iced coffee that is a very popular drink in the modern world. It helps the coffee to turn out big profitable business. 

For the record, there are about 1.5 billion cups of coffee are being poured every day. As per the record of the International Coffee Organization, 45 percent of coffee consumption from that 1.5 billion is consumed in the United States alone. 

Also read: People Who Changed the World

What are Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge’s other discoveries?

Apart from his great discovery of chemical caffeine, he discovered carbolic acid that was separated from the impure coal tar. The carbolic acid was used in order to create soaps having a mild antiseptic. Furthermore, Runge was the first scientist in 1934, who was capable to cure Malaria with his ability to isolate quinine. 

Runge also gave his valuable insight into techniques that used chrom1atography for the separation of chemical substances. It usually worked by passing the mixture of a chemical and a mobile phase through the stationary phase. 

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