Who Invented The Coffee Filter: The Surprising History

who invented the coffee filter?

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The invention of the coffee filter has had a significant impact on the world of coffee brewing, ensuring that we can enjoy a cup of smooth, grit-free coffee each morning.

But who is the genius who came up with this practical concept? 

Here’s the lowdown. In the early 20th century, a German housewife named Melitta Bentz was growing increasingly frustrated with the bitter taste and residual coffee grounds that often found their way into her morning cup of coffee. Determined to find a solution, she experimented with various techniques until she stumbled upon the perfect material: blotting paper.

Melitta Bentz’s simple yet effective idea revolutionized coffee making, and her invention is still widely used today with almost every coffee maker. 

Keep reading and learn more about the remarkable tale of Melita Bentz, who single-handedly transformed the world of coffee brewing by inventing the humble paper coffee filter.

Inventor Of The Coffee Filter

Melitta Bentz

Back in 1908, a German housewife named Melitta Bentz invented the coffee filter. Tired of dealing with the bitter taste and annoying coffee grounds in her cup, she decided to find a solution.

Melitta took a brass pot, punctured it with holes, and placed a piece of her son’s blotting paper underneath. By pouring hot water over the ground coffee beans and letting it seep through the paper, she was able to produce a clear, ground-free coffee.

This innovative method helped to improve the taste by filtering out oils and fine particles that often lead to over-extraction.

amalie auguste melitta

She quickly realized the commercial potential of her invention and filed a patent.

In July 1908, Melitta officially patented the “Filter Top Device lined with Filter Paper” and later founded the Melitta Bentz Company. The brand Melitta is still known for its filters and coffee-related products today.

Melitta’s simple invention revolutionized the coffee-drinking experience with these core benefits:

  • Cleaner and clearer coffee
  • Easier and faster preparation
  • Make coffee less bitter

Over the years, the coffee filter has evolved in material and design. Originally made from paper, reusable filters made of metal, cloth, and even gold have become popular alternatives. The size and shape of filters have also changed to accommodate various brewing methods and styles.

The journey of Melitta Bentz and the invention of the coffee filter demonstrates how a simple idea can transform a daily ritual for millions of people around the world.

As we enjoy our cup of coffee, it’s important to remember and appreciate the contribution of Melitta Bentz.

The Invention Process

Materials Used

During my research, I discovered that the very first filters for coffee were made from blotting paper.

The inventor, Melitta Bentz, started experimenting with different materials in an effort to remove coffee grounds from the brewed beverage.

After testing different types of paper and cloth, I found that Bentz’s solution of using blotting paper ripped from her son’s school books proved the most effective.

I should also mention that the filter’s shape was key to the success of the invention. The conical shape was created by pressing the blotting paper into a brass pot with holes (see image above).

This particular form allowed the coffee to flow through the paper efficiently while capturing the grounds.


Melitta Bentz filed a patent for her coffee filter in 1908. The patent granted her the exclusive rights to produce and sell her innovative filter design under the company name Melitta.

From reading the patent, it is clear that the invention was considered a massive step forward in coffee brewing technology at the time.

In my research, I was fascinated to find out that this simple yet revolutionary invention by Melitta Bentz has gone on to become the foundation of modern drip coffee filter designs.

Today, her initial invention still contributes to the ongoing success of her company, which is now global.

invented the paper coffee filter

The materials and the patent process speak to the dedication and ingenuity that is Melitta Bentz’s legacy.

Impact On The Coffee Industry

Improvement in Coffee Taste

The invention of the coffee filter has made a significant impact on the coffee industry by improving the taste of brewed filter coffee.

Before its introduction, coffee was often brewed with a cloth or metal sieve, which allowed much of the sediment to pass through into the drink. 

Now, thanks to Melitta Bentz’s invention, when using your coffee machine, we can enjoy a smoother, less muddy cup of coffee thanks to the paper filter’s ability to strain out unwanted coffee grounds.

Another notable improvement in taste comes from the coffee filter’s ability to absorb certain oils and compounds produced during coffee brewing.

With paper filters, most people will notice a cleaner, less bitter flavor in their coffee, which has become the “norm” for many coffee drinkers.

Environmental Benefits

The introduction of the coffee filter has not only had a positive impact on the taste of coffee but also on the environment.

Reusable cloth or metal filters require more water and energy to clean in comparison to biodegradable, disposable paper filters. Plus, paper filters are often made from sustainably sourced materials and can be composted after use.

Moreover, the adoption of the coffee filter in the industry has led to advancements in more eco-friendly alternatives, such as reusable stainless steel or mesh filters, which require less water and energy to produce in the long run.

These options are a great way to help promote a sustainable coffee brewing culture along with minimizing waste.

Modern Coffee Filters

Types of Filters

Modern coffee filters can be categorized into three main types: paper, metal, and cloth filters. Each type has its unique characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages.

Let’s take a closer look at three popular coffee filter variants:

Paper Coffee Filters: Paper filters are single-use, disposable filters made of bleached or unbleached paper.

Designed for the drip coffee maker, pour-over brewers like the Hario V60 and the Chemex, they allow for a clean and crisp cup of coffee, as they successfully trap most of the natural oils and sediments. However, they might absorb some important flavors, leaving a slightly lighter body.

Metal Coffee Filters: Metal filters are typically made of stainless steel and are reusable, making them environmentally friendly.

They allow more oils and sediments to pass through, resulting in a full-bodied cup of coffee. The downside is that they may become clogged over time and require a thorough cleaning.

Cloth Style Coffee Filters: Cloth filters are also reusable and are made from materials such as cotton or hemp.

They strike a balance between paper and metal filters, allowing some oils to pass through while still blocking finer sediments. The main drawback is that they require regular cleaning, and after extended use, the fibers can become damaged or worn out. 

amalie auguste melitta liebscher


So there you have it. Inventing the coffee filter was a significant milestone in the history of coffee making. German housewife Melitta Bentz is credited with inventing the first paper coffee filter in 1908.

Her invention was driven by a dissatisfaction with the coffee sediment and bitter taste found in conventional brewing methods at the time.

Not only did the paper filter provide a cleaner, less bitter coffee, but it also made it easier and more convenient for people to brew coffee at home.

Today, Melitta’s invention has evolved into various types of coffee filters, including metal and cloth. Furthermore, Bentz’s invention of the paper coffee filter led to the establishment of the Melitta Group, which is now a globally recognized brand offering a range of coffee-brewing products.

The impact of her invention continues to be felt today, improving countless coffee experiences and fueling the ongoing evolution of coffee brewing technology.

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