The Story of Caffeine
Evidence exists to the fact that caffeine has been used as a stimulant far back into periods of early history. One of the most famous poets of all time Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who is better known as the author of the Faust legend, reportedly gave a young chemist known as Friedrich Ferdinand Runge a number of coffee beans. Runge had been carrying out some chemical analysis on extracts of belladonna and Goethe suggested he do the same with coffee beans. It was from these coffee beans that Runge isolated caffeine sometime around the year 1819, ever since then we have been in cognizance of the effects of caffeine.
In reality it was way before this period that people were aware of the effects, this is because people were aware of the stimulating effects of coffee ever before the reason behind these stimulating effects were known. Chinese people were reputed to have taken advantage of the caffeine content found in tea as far back as 2700 BC .Coffee was available in South Africa in the 6th Century AD, civilizations in pre-Colombian South Africa were known to have drank both coffee and chocolate and both these products are widely known for their caffeine content.
Since caffeine has been around for as long as we can remember and even before then, it is rather difficult to pinpoint precise details about the history of caffeine. Different stories abound about the ancient uses of caffeine and one popular one is about a goat herder who discovered the stimulating effects of caffeine after his herd of goats had eaten a crop of coffee beans. He tried the beans and he reportedly experienced the effects himself. The veracity of this story however, is probably rather suspect.
Yes, for most of the history of caffeine, it was inextricably tied to coffee and tea. They made perfect delivery systems for the drug. Unless, of course, you didn’t much care, or couldn’t afford, coffee or tea. Although the first espresso machine appeared almost in conjunction with Runge’s discovery, it wouldn’t be until the 1880s that a method for delivering caffeine into a beverage artificially was discovered.
Caffeinated soft drinks instantly became all the rage and even those who were happy enough receiving their stimulant via coffee picked up the occasional sugary drink. What made this a true turning point in the history of caffeine, however, is that for the first time children began ingesting it. In fact, large numbers of children started getting the rush of caffeine and the health risks associated with this is still being debated today as the soft drink industry continues to thrive.
At the end of the 20th century, caffeine sort of became the most popular legal drug in the world and it is used in one form or the other in different countries. For most of history, the story of caffeine has been the history of coffee but this has changed in recent times as caffeine is now found in tea, soft drinks and a multitude of other products as well.
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