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The story of Frau Melitta Bentz and her amazing paper coffee filter

Updated on September 14, 2011

The great ideas are always simple. This is the case of the paper coffee filter. This idea came to one human mind centuries after the world got hooked on coffee and thousands of years since the invention of paper.
We do not have to many details of how it happened but we know now that it was a success story. At the end, we got to love the result and some of use it almost daily.

One early morning, on a sunny german spring, Frau Melitta Bentz woke up to make another coffee for her husband, Herr Hugo Bentz. She started the fire on the kitchen and set up her percolator and pretty soon she brew a wonderful coffee. Soon after, teased by the smell, Herr Bentz step in. They sat down around the table drinking coffee and planning the day ahead.

A short history of the paper coffee filter

The inventor of the paper coffee filter is Melitta Bentz. She was born in Dresden, in January 3 1873 as Amelie Auguste Melitta Liebscher, and died on June 29, 1950. She was the daughter of a publisher. She married Hugo Bentz and they had 2 sons, Horst and Willie, and a daughter, Hertha.

In 1908, Melitta Bentz, in an attempt to block unwanted coffee residues, discovered that using blotting paper to filter the coffee, did not alter the test and came with a better result.
She also invented the paper coffee filter holder, by perforating a brass pot and lining it with blotting paper.

The invention was patented in the summer of 1908 under the name of “Filter top device lined with filter paper”.

When all coffee was gone and her husband left for office, at a department store, and the two children went to school, Frau Melitta got her house all cleaned and went in town to find some fresh legumes for dinner. At this time of year, the weather in Dresden was still chilly and it rained sometimes for few days in a row.

That day, in the year of 1908, it was raining. As Melitta wondered from farmer to farmer, she came be sorry she didn’t brushed her teeth one more time that morning. That annoying coffee grounds were still stuck between her lower incisors.

Now, that was a very old problem that Frau Melitta had to face almost everyday.

She was a proud housewife that would do everything for the happiness of her family. And most of all she was dedicated to her husband. Herr Hugo was so bothered by the coffee grounds in his cups that he would often drink only the first half of a cup, demanding another clean one with more coffee. By the end of the morning Melitta would have to wash the whole cupboard.
Not that she mind the work but there were other things to be done as well. Oh..If she could strain that coffee so the grounds won’t snick into her husband’s cup again.

Frau Melitta Bentz
Frau Melitta Bentz | Source

Soon, a company was born. Under the name of “M. Bentz”, with only the membrers of the family as employees, the company registered a big success at the Leipzig Trade Fair.
Bentz family worked very hard for their new business. Hugo Bentz give up his job and the two sons worked for it after school. The new product was demonstrated in window shopping or among other housewives or female friends of Melitta. The paper coffee filter won two medals in Leipzig.

The company continued to grew and diversify during the years, improving the coffee filters. In 1925, the company, then managed by Hugo Bentz, Melitta’s husband, created the green and red packaging as we know it today and so the Melitta brand was born.

Today, the company, Melitta Group KG is based on Minden and has almost 4000 employees. Over years it had remained in the family and is now managed by Melitta’s grandchildren.

She had been experiencing with pieces of towels and other fabrics that she put over the cup before pouring the hot coffee and it almost worked. But for some reason the taste was not the same, it was bitter and flavorless. And she wasn’t going to spoil that good, expensive coffee.

“It must be something that works” she told herself, remembering her dad’s words that “there was always someone smarter then you that can do things better”. That he was himself o very smart man that grew a publishing company from scratch had inspired Melitta every day.
And Thinking of her father Melitta suddenly realized that she never tried to filter the coffee through paper. What about that thick but porous paper they used to suck the excess of ink, the blotting paper?

Whit this idea on her mind, Frau Melitta rushed home, almost forgetting to buy food for dinner. Once inside, she fire up the stove and set the percolator one more time. Then burst into the children’s room, grabbing the blotting paper they used for homework, discharging the dirty parts. While the percolator was brewing the coffee, Melitta tide two layers of paper over the top of a tall cup. When the coffee was ready, she carefully pour hot coffee over the paper in the cup. At first, there was a mess all over, as the liquid could not get through the paper as fast as she poured. Then she loosen the wrap, and giving the paper a push, she made a conic groove . Than she continued pouring the coffee, this time without a spill. At the end, when she was done, all the coffee was in the cup and all the grounds were on the paper. Then she remembered she had an small old brass pot she barely used. With a hammer and a nail she made three hols in the bottom  then lined it with paper and placed it over the cup. There was the very first paper coffee filter.
Melitta was happy. She couldn't wait to show her husband and tell her dad. The next morning should be a better day!

And the rest is history. Within a year, she was a successful businesswomen.

Disclosure: This is a piece of fiction based on real characters and events. The History of Paper Coffee Filter on the right side of this page.  


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    • cameciob profile image

      cameciob 7 years ago

      James, it is nice to see you to my hub. When I wrote this article I was not sure if I should publish it or I should regard it as an exercise. But then I published it anyway and it seems that I did the right thing. Thank you for the compliment.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      This is a neat idea. Not only are we educated and our minds illuminated, but we get to enjoy your considerable creative talents to boot. Thank you for this pleasure. :-)

    • cameciob profile image

      cameciob 7 years ago

      workingmomwm, what was amaizing for me is that they kept the name, Meliatta, for more then 100 years, for their coffee filter and coffee makers. Thanks for stopping.

    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 7 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Interesting hub. I always wondered where the name Melitta came from. Never occurred to me she was a German housewife. Nice!

    • cameciob profile image

      cameciob 7 years ago

      Docmo, thank you for your nice words and welcome to hubmob. You are right, there is so much to read and learn from everybody. I particularly like this week's hubmob subject.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 7 years ago from UK

      Wonderfully creative. I love the 'factual history' on the side and the main event your fictional creation based on real events. A great idea and immensely readable. I am glad I joined the hubmob weekly drive this week, I have seen so much creativity and innovation that I may have missed otherwise! voted up.

    • cameciob profile image

      cameciob 7 years ago

      Hi Nell. Now, I hope I'll make history too...when people won't read the Discosure and leave my page believing my story!

      Thanks for stopping and rating.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, I think this version is probably pretty close to the real story! and what a great way of inventing something, I loved this! rated up! cheers nell

    • cameciob profile image

      cameciob 7 years ago

      samsons1, thank you for your nice comment. I'm sure it happened as I least 10% of it! lol.

    • cameciob profile image

      cameciob 7 years ago

      Hi Patty, I'm glad you stopped my hub. I always thought that history is 90% imagination and 10% evidence!

      Thanks for rating.

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 7 years ago from Tennessee

      voted up and beautiful! Well written, affectionately appropriate account and I'm sure it all happened just as you said...

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      It is quite creative and clever to write a fiction account to go along with the history. Brava! Rahted Up.