Coffee brewed through a paper filter is common these days, thankfully. But most of us probably don’t even think about the invention of the filter or know much about its humble beginnings. In 1908, German homemaker Melitta Bentz invented paper coffee filters by using a piece of blotting paper from her son’s school notebook and a brass pot punctured with holes.
She sought out to brew a cleaner cup of coffee without the chew of coffee grounds and bitterness often caused by over-extraction, as was commmon in her day. (Cloth filters were used previously–and even socks in a pinch. We can imagine some potential problems there…) The paper filter also led to a cleaner, more efficient disposal of coffee grounds. She patented the invention in the summer of 1908 under the name “Filter top device lined with filter paper.”
The device went on to win awards at the Leipzig Trade Fair. The company has continued to evolve over the years and is still around today, run by Melitta’s grandkids. Here are some of the company’s heritage items, and the old standby Melitta Number 4.