Top 25 Facts About Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge and The Invention of Coffee

Posted by , Updated on November 26, 2022

Here is an incredible list: 25 facts about Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge. Hey you! yes, you drinking that coffee. Are you enjoying the satisfying warmth, on a cold day?

Or perhaps you’re drinking an iced coffee on a summer day mixed with Hazelnut syrup with a dash of whip cream. Maybe you aren’t even drinking it, but are using coffee in unique and interesting ways.

Did you know that Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge is the scientist who discovered coffee? Like many great inventions in history, it was discovered by accident. 

Ferdinand Runge was also was responsible for discovering the first way to dye clothes. He was one of several scientists whose discovery changed the world in unbelievable ways. So, raise your mugs and read the Top 25 Facts About Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge


His Family and Sibilings

lutheran symbol-runge article 25

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge came from a rather large family. Runge had seven siblings all who were raised by a single father. His father was a minister.


Early Scientific Fascination


Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was born on February 8, 1794, in Billwerder. At a very early age he was fascinated with science and chemistry.


Discovery of Caffeine


Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge discovered caffeine almost by accident. He was experimenting with something else when an accident happened and it led to the discovery of caffeine.


A Young Scientist


Runge was only 25 years old when he discovered caffeine. This proves you’re never too young for great discoveries.


His Upbrining


Runge’s mother died when he was only 12. He was raised by his father who was a Lutheran minister.


First Discovery of the Belladonna


Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge discovered the effects of the belladonna plant. He accidentally got some in his eyes and noticed his eyes dilated. He also noticed the plant caused effects, such as blurred vision, dry mouth, and mental problems.




Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was a professor at The University of Breslau, which was nearly destroyed by the French general Napoleon Bonaparte. Ironically, Napoleon was a big lover of coffee.


Runge and Goethe


Runge discovered caffeine during the time he discovered the effects of belladonna. He was with a writer by the name Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who told him to put belladonna into the eyes of a cat. Goethe was so impressed with the effects of the experimentation, he gave him a bag of coffee beans to analyze the contents.


Discovery of Coal Tar-Dyes


Tar dyes are artificial coloring agents that can be found in shampoo and food. They are also used to cure and kill head lice, and treat skin problems.


He had other jobs


Before he landed a job in chemistry, Runge worked as a pharmacist and as a physician. His first chemistry job was at the University of Breslau.


He was a writer


Not only was he a chemist and discovered one of the greatest things on Earth. Runge was also a great science writer. He helped physicians and pharmacists transcribe their work.


Died a Poor Man


Tragically, even after his amazing discoveries and contributions to the scientific community, Runge was fired from his chemistry job and lived in poverty up until his death.


Quinine Discovery


After Runge made the wonderful discovery of caffeine, he got a career in purine chemistry. It was at this job that he discovered quinine. It is used to treat malaria. Sadly, he was not credited with this discovery.


Problems with Employers


Runge had many problems with his employers. Anytime he made a scientific discovery, they dismissed what he had to say. Eventually, he was fired from his job after 20 years.




As soon as caffeine was discovered, coffee shops sprung up. However, it was mostly the upper class who went to these cafes.


Beet Analysis


Runge was the first scientist to extract sugar from beet juice. He was interested in many things and plants provided him with endless opportunities for learning.


An Interesting Thought


So Runge discovered caffeine when he analyzed some coffee beans, given to him by the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Have you ever noticed how much poetry is read in coffee shops? A coincidence? Maybe


Age of Death


If Runge were alive today he would be 225 years. In 1867, he died at the age of 73 in Oranienburg, Germany.




Because of his constant work with poisons, his classmates nicknamed him Dr. Gift. Gift is the German word for poison.




Runge also discovered paper chromatography. Chromatography is a method used to separate color chemicals or substances.




Bennet Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K Bealer were two authors who wrote a book about Runge. It was called “The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug.”


Coffee as it is Today


Thanks to Runge’s discovery more than 450,000,000 cups of coffee are drunk every day. So raise your mugs and say thank you.


Caffeine Today


Caffeine is found in some of your favorite noncoffee drinks including soft drinks such as Coke, Pepsi, and Mountain Dew.


Unknown Death


Runge died on March 25th, 1867. The cause of his death remains unknown. However, it wasn’t until 2 years after his death that he was acknowledged for his discoveries.


The Transition


Since Runge’s discovery coffee has gone through many transformations. It’s become a cappuccino, an espresso, and a latte. Whichever way we drink it, let’s thank Mr. Runge.

Photo: 1. Jonathan McIntosh, Cappuccino at Sightglass Coffee, CC BY-SA 4.0, 2. www.alarmy.comn (Public Domain), 3. (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 4. Julius Schorzman, A small cup of coffee, CC BY-SA 2.0, 5. (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 6. (Public Domain), 7. (Public Domain), 8. Jumbo1435, Grab F.F.Runge, CC BY-SA 3.0, 9. (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 10. (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 11. (Public Domain), 12. AnonymousUnknown author, Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge portrait circa 1860 holding glass, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons, 13. Vaccinationist, Quinine structure, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons, 14. (Public Domain), 15. Mushki Brichta, קלף, נוצה ודיו, CC BY-SA 4.0, 16. Zeichnung: Carl Würbs (1807–1876); Stahlstich: Johann Poppel (1807-1882), Universität in Breslau, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons, 17. (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 18. Joseph Karl Stieler creator QS:P170,Q467658, Goethe (Stieler 1828), marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons, 19. anonymous, BreslauUniversity1760, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons, 20. Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen, Atropa belladonna - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-018, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons, 22. (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 23. Vaccinationist, Caffeine structure, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons, 24. TUBS, Billwerder in HH, CC BY-SA 3.0, 25. I, Daniel Csörföly (from Budapest, Hungary), Lutherrose, CC BY-SA 3.0

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