Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that is a psychoactive stimulant drug. Caffeine was discovered by a German chemist, Friedrich Ferdinand Runge, in 1819. He coined the term "kaffein", a chemical compound in coffee, which in English became caffeine. Caffeine is also part of the chemical mixtures and insoluble complexes guaranine found in guarana, mateine found in mate, and theine found in tea; all of which contain additional alkaloids such as the cardiac stimulants theophylline and theobromine, and often other chemicals such as polyphenols which can form insoluble complexes with caffeine.
Caffeine is found in varying quantities in the beans, 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 cherries 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 mate, guarana berries, and the Yaupon Holly.
In humans, caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, having the effect of temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. Beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks enjoy great popularity. 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. In North America, 90% of adults consume caffeine daily. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists caffeine as a "Multiple Purpose Generally Recognized as Safe Food Substance".
Caffeine has diuretic properties, at least 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.