The invention of the coffee filter and its inventor

It took several years until the coffee filter was invented. The 9th century: discovery of coffee and its effects - the 18th century: invention of the coffee filter. So for a good 900 years coffee was always mixed with water and boiled until the filter was finally invented. The best-known name in this context is Melitta Bentz , who developed the first paper filter in the early 1900s. Coffee filters existed before that, but not good ones. Let's start from the beginning again.

Invention of coffee filters – the discovery of coffee

The Coffee plant originates from Ethiopia . Legend has it that one day the shepherd Kaldi noticed that his goats were jumping around happily after eating the red cherries from a bush. After he After he had tried the cherries himself and noticed the effect , he took a few of the cherries to a monastery with local monks. They themselves found the fruits bitter and threw them into the fire. And here comes the magic – The roasted coffee beans spread a wonderful scent in the monastery and ultimately persuaded the monks to make the drink we know today as coffee. Back then, it probably tasted very different than it does today. They roasted the beans together with the pulp and boiled everything together.

Invention of coffee filters – the development over time

Most sources say that the Kaffa region in southwest Ethiopia is the place of origin of coffee. This would also fit etymologically (Kaffa - coffee). It was mentioned there as early as the 9th century. Other sources assume that coffee originally comes from Abyssinia. At least both Ethiopian. From Ethiopia, coffee probably reached Yemen and thus the Arabian Peninsula through slave traders in the 14th century. In the usual preparation method today with roasted, However, it was probably not used there until the middle of the 15th century as ground or mashed and cooked beans. Century. Even then, water and coffee powder were boiled together. And that's how it was done all over the world until the 18th century. In some countries they still do it that way.

coffee filter-melitta

Invention of coffee filters – the first attempts

In the 18th century, started boiling coffee powder and water separately. So people started pouring water over the ground coffee. The pour-over method was developed. To ensure that no coffee powder got into the drink, they used filters made of linen or blotting paper, put these in a funnel and then filled the ground coffee into them. And then they poured the boiling water over it in small increments or all at once. Not much different than today. Apart from the filters, there were also bags made of fabric, which are still known today as tea socks, but which were also used for coffee at the time.

Inventor of coffee filters – Melitta Bentz

And then came At the beginning of the 20th century, a resourceful lady from Dresden invented the first disposable paper filter. The story goes that in 1907, Melitta Bentz started her day as she always did: with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. At that time, powder and water were brewed together. And the coffee grounds in the cup and in the mouth annoyed the 34-year-old so much that she thought about how to prevent it. So she started experimenting and, as is often the case, she often failed. Until one day, out of sheer frustration, she took a sheet of her son's blotting paper, cut out a round piece and put it in an old tin can, in the bottom of which she had made holes with a nail. The filtering processes at the time used textile as a filter, were complex and hardly affordable for ordinary mortals. In 1908, Melitta Bentz applied for a patent for her development. The rest is history.

Inventor of coffee filters – the company Melitta

The company Melitta still makes filter papers today, even though there are now many other manufacturers, which are even more popular among filter coffee lovers. Without Melitta Bentz, we would all still have coffee grounds in our cups . And even today, Melitta is still the world market leader in the production of triangular paper filter bags.


The First World War made life difficult for the newly born Melitta company, but the family fought through and in 1936 the flat metal base element in a conical brass pot became a porcelain pot, into which a funnel-shaped filter leaf was inserted instead of a round one. It was the birth of the still famous and unmistakably triangular Melitta filter

Invention of coffee filters – other developments

Other coffee filters were developed around the world, such as the Vietnamese Phin filter or the Arndt coffee infusion machine and many more. However, the principle behind these was the same: a water container with a perforated bottom that acts as a sieve. However, these were and are permanent filters. Here everyone can decide for themselves whether they want to use disposable paper filters or reusable permanent filters.

Invention of coffee filters – other manufacturers

Hario , Chemex, Moccamaster , Sibarist, Aeropress, Cafec , Kalita, Origami, Kinto, Orea. There are a number of filter paper manufacturers today. You can also find many of them in our shop. And the hipster discussions about which is better are just as pointless as the discussion about whether it is better to pour water onto the coffee left or right, in two, three or one step. The method and approach that is best for you is always the right one. And that also applies to the filter paper. Whether Hario, Kalita, Melitta or another. But it certainly can't hurt to try something different, Otherwise you may not find your favorite filter paper.

Filter coffee-chemex

Invention of coffee filters – status today

Today, paper coffee filters fulfil many more wishes than when they were invented in 1907, when the only purpose was not to have any coffee grounds in the cup and to filter out some of the bitter taste. The fine-pored cellulose filters bind essential oils and fats and pass on the aromas of the coffee unchanged. Unbleached paper can bring in more of its own flavor. Therefore, you should Before brewing coffee, rinse the filter paper once with hot water – but this also applies to bleached coffee filters. There are straight ones - the classic filter bag -, there are corrugated ones, there are small round sheets for the Aeropress and similar applications, and there are ones you can fold yourself.

Invention of coffee filters – the future

Nobody can see into the future. But research is also continuing into the invention of coffee filters. For example, with the Hoop from Ceado, there is already a coffee filter, which basically does everything itself, although it also works with filter paper . A little more innovative is the Cerapotta filter made of porous ceramic. This is a permanent filter that is simply rinsed out before and after use. The positive thing is - as with all permanent filters - that they are more sustainable than paper ones. Drip bags are coffee and a filter for one cup in one. Also something very innovative. So we'll be excited to see what innovations the industry will bring to the market in the coming years.

Invention of coffee filters – conclusion

Thanks to Melitta Bentz, we can Enjoying coffee without grounds for more than 100 years and have a wide selection of disposable and permanent filters, so that we coffee lovers never get bored. In this sense, good brewing and always stay well caffeinated! #staywild