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Melitta Bentz: 150 years of the coffee filter

Those of us who enjoy the rich dark taste of filtered coffee can today celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Melitta Bentz. Who?

Melitta Bentz was born on 31 January 1873 in Dresden in Germany and her claim to coffee fame is that she would be credited with inventing filter coffee.

As a German housewife she would, like many millions of other women, be annoyed with percolators of the time over brewing coffee, espresso machines would leave ground in the drink and linen bag filters were troublesome to clean. She decided to experiment and using blotting paper from her son Willy’s school exercise book and a brass pot punctured using a nail. The resulting coffee tasted less bitter and was an instant hit.

Melitta Bentz then decided to capitalise on her discovery, applied for a German patent and on 15 December 1908 established her family company with husband Hugo and sons Horst and Willy. During World War One when the use of paper was restricted and coffee beans impossible to obtain the company almost failed, but survived only just. In the inter war years the company, once again, prospered and by 1929 the company was producing 169,420 coffee filters. By the time of her death in 1950 the company she founded was worth 4.7 million Deutsche Marks.

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