Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid and psychoactive stimulant. Caffeine was first isolated from coffee in 1820 by the German chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge and in 1821 by French chemists, Robiquet as well as the team of Pelletier and Caventou, working independently.
Pelletier first coined the word "cafeine" from the French word for coffee (cafÃ© ) and this term became the English word "caffeine".
Caffeine is found in varying quantities in the seeds, leaves, and fruit of some plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plants.
It is most commonly consumed by humans in infusions extracted from the bean of the coffee plant and the leaves of the tea bush, as well as from various foods and drinks containing products derived from the kola nut. Other sources include yerba matÃ©, guarana berries, and the yaupon holly.
In humans, caffeine acts as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness.
Caffeine is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive substance, but, unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all jurisdictions. Beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks, enjoy great popularity; in North America, 90% of adults consume caffeine daily.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists caffeine as a "multiple purpose generally recognized as safe food substance".
Caffeine has diuretic properties when administered in sufficient doses to subjects who do not have a tolerance for it. Regular users, however, develop a strong tolerance to this effect, and studies have generally failed to support the common notion that ordinary consumption of caffeinated beverages contributes significantly to dehydration.