• Ann Allanson

Every Coffee Lover Owes A Debt Of Thanks to this Woman

I really can't imagine a time when morning brew wasn't made with a coffee filter.

But a century ago, coffee lovers were not only challenged with waking up, but also with making a decent cup of coffee.

Why? There were no coffee filters. Nada.

Morning risers everywhere grumbled about cleaning out stain ridden cloth filters and scraping out coffee sludge from the bottom of a coffee pot. Not to mention the bitter taste.

One housewife in Dresden, Germany had had enough. Melitta Bentz began tinkering with ways to filter coffee that didn't involve cloth.

Legend has it that she eventually came up with the brilliant idea of punching holes in the bottom of a brass pot.

Bentz then used blotting paper from her son's schoolbook and placed it in the punctured pot and added coffee. She poured boiling water over it and drip coffee was born. Melitta tested the coffee and declared it bitterness and sludge-free.

Melitta's invention was warmly welcomed. She and her husband eventually formed the Melitta Company, which is still very much in existence today. Naturally, her coffee filter received many incarnation over the years, adjusting to changes in coffee pots. When coffee pots moved from flat to cone shaped, Melitta followed.

In 1910, her coffee filter invention won medals at the Saxon Innkeepers' Association and at the International Health Exhibition.

But that really isn't the most amazing part of the story.

Bentz's Success was Unheard Of For A Woman

Today it's not surprising to hear of a woman achieving business success. But a century ago? Gender roles and expectations were rigid. Woman didn't secure their own patents much less co-found a company, but Melitta did.

Most women business owners back then were widows who had strong personalities, willing to prevent other men from horning in on their action.

That's what makes the support of Melitta's husband that much more surprising. Eventually, he and her sons worked in the business she masteminded.

Coffee in the Melitta Workplace

Not only were Melitta and her husband ahead of their time, Melitta's workplace policies were far from the norm, too.

Starting in 1930. she instituted Christmas bonuses. And that was just the beginning.

  • The company offered an unheard of 15 day of paid vacation each year.

  • Workers were given Saturdays as well as Sundays off. (Hello, weekend!)

  • The Melitta Company started a social fund for staff in need called Melitta Aid. Anniversary bonuses, subsidized apartments, and robust health insurance were also offered.

None of these workplace options were standard for the day.

The Coffee Filter and Coffee Boom

Thanks to Melitta Bentz, her coffee infiltration system changed the face of the coffee industry, no doubt playing a major role in coffee's popularity. Today that popularity has grown to epic, and dare I say, outrageous, proportions.

Now caffeine lovers stumble to the coffee pot, perform their morning coffee ritual and never realize how much Melitta Bentz helped them to say, "Ahhh! Now that's a good cup of coffee!"

Thanks, Melitta, for giving Staunton coffee lovers an easier cup of coffee to make, and a better tasting cup to boot.

If you want to taste gourmet coffee at its finest, stop by the Coffee Cave at Jake's Convenience. We brew fresh coffee every 90 minutes. We think Melitta would approve.

#MelittaBentz #coffeefilters #coffeelovers


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