Decisive Moments in the History of Coffee Culture:

Melitta Benz – The Inventor of Paper Coffee Filter

Exploring the history of pour-over coffee is exciting and inspiring! It’s a collection of stories about people like you and us –  coffee lovers, who kept asking themselves, how they could improve the quality of their daily coffee drinks. We are certain that all of them enjoyed the process of investigating and experimenting. ‘The journey is the destination’, as the Chinese philosopher Confucius so rightly said.

Here is the story of Melitta Benz – the pioneering German coffee lover who invented the paper coffee filter. Benz was filled with massive amounts of ideas and drive. Her creation revolutionized the coffee culture in Germany and beyond.

Benz (1873 – 1950) was a housewife from Dresden, Germany with a big passion for coffee and entrepreneurial spirit. She was brewing coffees daily and was not happy with the fact that too many coffee grounds were getting into her final cup. The metal or ceramic filtering tools that were already on the market didn’t help. Benz kept asking herself: how else this could be done?

The smart housewife identified a problem and found a clever way to solve it.

To solve this problem, she linked two things together in a way they have never been linked before: Coffee and paper. Her simple, but revolutionary idea was to use paper to filter out the coffee grounds. Benz punctured the bottom of a brass pot with a hammer and nails and lined it up with a thick and porous sheet of blotting paper that she took from the school-notebook of her son.  

“The greatest ideas are the simplest.”– William Golding, Lord of the Flies

Her idea proved to be fruitful: Clear and delicious coffee was dripping into the cup. The paper was covered with the unwanted, bitter grounds.

In 1908, Bentz received a patent registration for her “Filter Top Device lined with Filter Paper.” The creative housewife founded the Melitta company, using a room in her family apartment in Dresden.

Her company mastered the transition from one act to the next. The first Melitta drippers had eight holes on the bottom. After experimenting with various dripper designs, the company decided to mass-produce single hole drippers in the 1960s.

Today, Melitta is a family-owned global-player, based in Minden, Germany, selling paper coffee filters, coffee and coffee making equipment.

Let’s never stop exploring.

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