• July 31, 2022

Melitta coffee filters: a coffee invention we love

Innovation is, without a doubt, the vital element of business projects and the development of new businesses. Inventors can be defined as revolutionaries who drive the economy by design or by accident with new ideas that promote competition and create markets..

The story of Melita Bentz (1873-1950) is a classic example of a 35-year-old housewife turned petty entrepreneur who invented a revolution in coffee filters in her small German kitchen. Another fascinating thing about Melitta and her husband Hugo is that they recognized the importance of filing patents as the first inventors to file their original and subsequent inventions. This was a very smart move that protected their innovations from competitors and provided them with a safety net for new business development. As the world has become more globally interconnected, inventors around the world are learning to be vigilant about competition, filing patents early, and not losing valuable patent rights as a result of late filings.

The Melitta Bentz Company began with a strong patent foundation for consistent, long-term business, commercial, and industrial efforts that benefit millions of people around the world. Another way to look at the story of Melitta Bentz and her coffee filter is to remember the old adage that “….necessity is the mother of invention and the father of entrepreneurship…” Nothing else better captures the story of Melitta Benz and her invention of the coffee filter. Picture this: an ordinary housewife experimenting in her own kitchen with some way to filter coffee to make her cup taste better. Pretty straight forward and simple meta. No attempts to change the world. Just better beer!

Melitta’s Eureka moment didn’t come in a flash of inspiration, but was the result of frustration with dirty coffee pots without a filter or washing stained filters made of cloth materials that didn’t do the job of filtration very well.. Melitta came across the use of school blotting paper to filter liquids and remove coffee grounds. She cut the blotting paper into a circle shape and found that it fit the metal cup well for her purposes. Initially, her invention was simple: place a piece of paper on the perforated bottom of a brass pot to brew a cleaner cup of coffee. The paper filter was disposable, which reduced the amount of work she had to do. No more dirty and stained coffee cloth filters, and a more hygienic system that was appealing from a health-conscious point of view. Over time, Melitta perfected the shape of his filter and filed a patent on June 20, 1908 for his two-part coffee filtration system consisting of a filter and filtration paper.

Several months later, Melitta Bentz and her husband officially launched the Melitta Bentz Company. The company started on a tight budget. However, like most committed inventors, everyone in the Bentz family was committed to doing their part to make it a success. The sons developed a neighborhood delivery route for the coffee filters. This helped drive word-of-mouth advertising, which led to more distribution and marketing opportunities for paper coffee filters. In 1925 filter packaging with the familiar red and green colors was introduced and the Melitta brand began to become a household word. The Melitta Bentz Company continued to advance technologically and filed additional patents for Filtertuten® (filter bags) to fit the new cone-shaped device bag in 1937.

The original filter shape changed to the cone shape with the triangular pleated paper filter design and tapering at the bottom that we know today.. The importance of this change is that the ideal shape for filtering coffee was finally achieved. The paper used for the filter was replaced by a more porous type of paper. The paper filter cone went from a ceramic and porcelain version to a plastic filter cone that was durable and inexpensive. In 1989, Melitta introduced Natural Brown filter paper.. The pulp is not bleached, which prevents unwanted by-products from harming the environment.

Fears about toxic bleaches used in papermaking led The Melitta Bentz Company to switch to a dioxin-free oxygenated paper bleach in 1992. That’s when oxygen-bleached paper was born. In 1997 Melitta introduced a new generation of filter paper called Flavor Pores. These filters have microfine perforations that filter out unwanted particles and oils while enhancing flavor and aroma. In 2002, Melitta introduced a double crimp technology which adds strength and increases the durability of the filters by adding a second safety crimp. In 2007, the #2 and #4 size Bamboo filters hit the shelves. They are made with 60% bamboo, which is a naturally renewable resource. Also in 2007, Melitta launched new patented flavor-enhancing micro-perforations. The company operates under the name of the Melitta Group in Minden, Germany, which has almost 50 companies with more than three thousand employees worldwide.

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