The History of Coffee Makers

The History of Coffee Makers

It’s hard to imagine waking up every morning and not having a steaming hot cup of coffee. The coffee machines we use currently make our lives ten times easier and allow us to have that perfect cup of coffee every morning.

But when humans discovered coffee back in the 15th century, it’s not like they also discovered a coffee machine with it. When did what we know as the coffee machine come to be? And who is responsible for this life-altering invention?

History of the Coffee Machine

We can date drinking coffee back to 850 B.C, and maybe even further. Of course, people in 850 B.C didn’t have the traditional coffee machine we do nowadays, though.

Throughout the years, hundreds of people prepared coffee in a variety of ways. In fact, Historians can date back coffee brewing to 575 A.D. when the Turks were brewing coffee regularly.

Depending on who you ask, some people will say that the first coffee brewing contraption was the coffee percolator. This invention came about in 1889. But, coffee machines we know nowadays and a percolator are not the same things.

But, when it comes to the traditional coffee machine we all know and love, Melitta Bentz is credited with its creation in 1908.

Biography of Melitta Bentz

Who is Melita Bentz, you may ask? Melitta Bentz was your typical German woman in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She had her family and, like many, enjoyed a piping hot cup of coffee every morning.

Melitta Bentz was born in January of 1873 in Dresden, Germany. While many people knew and know her as Melitta, that’s not her first name. Melitta was given the name Amalie Auguste Melitta Liebscher by her parents before shortening her name to Melitta and marrying her husband, Hugo Bentz.

Melitta was your typical German housewife who took pride in caring for her two children, her husband, and their home. Melitta came from a family of go-getters. Her grandparents owned a brewery in Germany, and her father worked in book publishing.

You may wonder why this German housewife invented something that changed the course of coffee making as we know it. Well, she had a pretty good reason.

Why Did She Invent the Coffee Machine?

Melitta invented the coffee filters we now use with all drip coffee machines if you want to get technical. Creating coffee filters was the biggest factor that changed a typical coffee maker of that time into the drip coffee machines we know today.

Melitta Bentz began her mornings the same way almost every day, with a cup of coffee. The story is often told about why she decided to invent the coffee filter and, in turn, the drip coffee machine begins this way. It begins with her sitting in her Dresden home with a cup of coffee.

Bentz’s son has been quoted telling the world that his mother hated the taste and texture of coffee grounds in her coffee. This irritation with tasting and feeling the coffee grounds was what lit a fire in Melitta to create something that prevented this from happening.

In addition to hating the taste and texture of coffee grounds, Melitta found it frustrating to have to clean the coffee pot every day to remove any coffee grounds that were stuck to the sides.

One day, a frustrated and irritated Melitta decided to try something she hadn’t before. She took a piece of blotting paper from one of her son’s notebooks and poked several tiny holes in it. She took the punctured blotting paper and stuck it inside her tin coffee pot.

From here, she added the coffee grounds and began brewing coffee like she would every morning. She drank her morning coffee without coffee grounds making their way into her cup, and the clean-up was easier than ever for her.

Feeling incredibly proud of herself, as she should, she began telling friends and neighbors about her little invention. Many people weren’t convinced that something so simple could solve such a problem. That is until she brewed them some coffee with her new coffee filter.

Melitta Bentz began hosting what she called “coffee afternoons” to share her new invention with as many people as possible. Then, in 1908, she was granted the patent to officially be named the inventor of the coffee filter and the coffee machine. Once she received the patent, it only went up from there.

Was her Invention Received Well By the Public?

Initially, people were perplexed by what Melitta had created. Could this small filter actually make a difference in their everyday coffee time?

Once Melitta began sharing her little invention with others, people became impressed. They wanted to make coffee this way all the time because not only did they not have to drink coffee grounds, but cleaning up was so much easier since they just had to throw the filter away.

From the day she received the patent in 1908 to when she contacted a production company, she was able to sell 1,200 coffee machines/filters by 1909. That may not seem like a lot, but for the time being, that’s a lot for one year of sales.

You can say that Melitta’s invention was perceived well by the public because, to this day, the Melitta Group is still fully operational. The company currently has a little over 4,000 employees throughout the world and in 2017 grossed approximately 1.8 million USD.

One of the best things about Melitta’s company is that it’s still run by her family. While Melitta and her husband Hugo are no longer around, they can rest in peace knowing that their grandchildren are currently running the company and keeping her brilliant invention alive.

The Melitta Group is currently headquartered in Minden, Germany, which is roughly four hours from where Melitta Bentz was born and raised her children. They focus on sustainability in the coffee world and sell drip coffee machines, coffee filters, and continue to stay up to date on coffee innovations to make Melitta Bentz proud.