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FOOD FACTS: Inventor Of The Coffee Filter

This 10-cup manual drip Melitta Coffeemaker set is just $12.95 at


Today is National Coffee Day, but where would we be any day without coffee filters?

Before 1908, coffee was a gritty affair. The percolators of the time tended to over-brew the coffee, making it too bitter. Espresso machines left grounds in the cup. Reusable linen bag filters were an option, but who wanted to empty and clean them?

Housewife Melitta Bentz (1873-1950) of Dresden, Germany sought a solution.

In 1908, Mrs. Bentz tested different ways to create a permeable barrier between the grounds and the brewed coffee. She hit pay dirt when testing blotting paper from the notebook of her older son (in those pre-ball point, pre-felt tip days, people wrote with pen and ink, and used the paper to blot up the ink spills).

She then she drilled holes in the bottom of a small brass pot, inserted the blotting paper over the holes, added ground coffee and poured hot water over it. The coffee dripped through, flavorful and groundless!

Mrs. Bentz tweaked the product and received a patent in 1912 for “a coffee filter with a curved and indented bottom and with slanting extraction holes,” to be used in combination with “filtration paper.” It was a hit. Today the company, run by Melitta’s grandchildren, has a workforce of some 3,800 people in 50 countries. In the U.S. alone, it sold $100 million worth of filters in 2009.

You can see the original device here. It doesn’t look like today’s sleek plastic cone and cone-shaped filter, (shown in the photo), but it did the trick.

Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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