The story of how chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge discovered caffeine


GERMAN chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge is the genius mind behind the identification of caffeine.

But what else did he discover and how did he identify caffeine? Here’s what you should know.


Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge is a German chemist who identified caffeine and discovered the first coal tar dye[/caption]

Who is Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge?

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge is a German chemist who identified caffeine and discovered the first coal tar dye.

He also used belladonna as a way to dilate the eye pupils.

He was born on February 8, 1794, and died on March 25, 1867.

He began conducting experiments from a young age, and during one experiment, he accidentally splashed a drop of belladonna extract in his eye.

This then led him to discover the effects of that, which resulted in the dilation of pupils.

After working for the same chemical company for 21 years he was dismissed by a manager with a grudge. Runge tragically died in poverty.

Getty – Contributor

During 1934 Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was one of the first scientists able to isolate quinine, which is used to treat malaria[/caption]

How did he discover coffee?

Later on in his life, he was studying under world-known chemist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Runge, then 25, was asked to demonstrate belladonna’s effects to other students.

His work impressed Goethe and prompted him to give him a bag of rare coffee beans and told him to analyse their chemical compound.

After some research and a lot of experiments, Runge isolated caffeine.

He was then able to identify a caffeinated drink from a decaf, which allowed people to drink coffee without getting a buzz afterwards.

Since then, coffee has seen many different recipes, including the invention of iced coffee, which is a very popular drink in today’s modern world.

The discovery has transformed coffee into a huge business, which eventually saw more than 1.5billion cups of coffee being poured DAILY worldwide.

About 45 per cent of that 1.5billion is consumed in the US alone, according to the International Coffee Organisation.

What are his other discoveries?

In 1934 he discovered carbolic acid, which he separated from impure coal tar. Later carbolic acid was used to create soaps which had a mild antiseptic.

Also during 1934 he was one of the first scientists able to isolate quinine, which is used to treat malaria.

He also worked on techniques that used chromatography to separate chemical substances, which worked by passing a mixture of a chemical and a “mobile phase” through a “stationary phase”.


Google is celebrating the German chemist with a Doodle today[/caption]

What is his Google Doodle?

The G of Google is depicted in coffee beans – and the animation shows Runge himself drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee, which makes his eyes pop and his hair stand on end.

The oo of Google contains the chemical formula for caffeine.

A cat with boggling eyes is a reference to the pupil dilating effects of belladoona.

What is a Google Doodle?

In 1998, the search engine founders Larry and Sergey drew a stick figure behind the second ‘o’ of Google as a message to show that they were out of office at the Burning Man festival and with that, Google Doodles were born.

The company decided that they should decorate the logo to mark cultural moments and it soon became clear that users really enjoyed the change to the Google homepage.

In that same year, a turkey was added to Thanksgiving and two pumpkins appeared as the ‘o’s for Halloween the following year.

Now, there is a full team of doodlers, illustrators, graphic designers, animators and classically trained artists who help create what you see on those days.

Google kicked off 2019 with an animated Doodle of New Year’s Eve celebrations.

On January 11, the life of the first black singer on BBC Radio, Evelyn Dove, was celebrated.

Sake Dean Mahomed, who was the first to open an Indian restaurant in the UK, was also honoured with  a Google Doodle on January 15.

And on February 5, 2019, the Chinese New Year was celebrated with a hand animation transforming into a pig.


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