Discovery of caffeine
Caffeine in the lab
Caffeine and plants
Students and Caffeine

Caffeine and the Laboratory

Caffeine may well have been the only drug in history with some responsibility for stimulating
the formulation of the theoretical foundations of its own discovery.

Weinberg and Bealer, The World of Caffeine, 2001

 Is it purely a coincidence that the first great advances in European Science since the fall of the Roman Empire, occurred simultaneously with the introduction of the first coffee houses to Britain? That it occurred at the same time that coffee became the preferred the drink of the European intellectuals, in Oxford and London?

If you are tempted to answer yes, then consider also the actions of Robert Boyle (1627-91), who many consider to be the leading scientist in England at the time, and whose research is responsible for so much of the theories that we still use today. Before Boyle, the theory of the elements was largely accepted to follow the Greek philosopher Empedocles teachings that the four undivided and indestructible elements were fire, water, earth and air, 2000 years previously. Boyle, as well as constructing theories on the elements that completely altered the world's views, and his famous law involving gases which carries his name,  was a founding member of the original Oxford Coffee Club.

So what is caffeine? (Requires Chime) A look at the chemical make-up of the caffeine molecule. (View this page without Chime)

Crystalline caffeine. Information on the pure compound including, yes, the lethal dose.

The methylated xanthines. Caffeine's closest relations.

Mother Nature's Lab. Why nature is still the better chemist...

Images used with blanket permission from Microsoft Office Clipart

Back to top

Caffeine - Simon Tilling