Who invented the paper coffee filter?

by Frank D.
(Richmond, BC)

Conical Paper Coffee Filter

Conical Paper Coffee Filter


I don’t know if you have the answer to this question, and I know it’s not much to do with actually making coffee. But each time I pick up a new pack of paper coffee filters, I find myself wondering who first came up with the idea. It’s such a simple idea, and coffee filters seem to have been around for ever.


Frank, hi. Thanks for the question.

As it happens, I do know the answer to your question. And it’s an interesting answer too!

The paper coffee filter was invented by a German housewife. Until then the coffee grinds and the hot water remained in a pot and, as a result, the coffee soon became bitter. That’s what happens when you leave the grinds in the water for too long.

So she tinkered around a bit and came up with the idea of creating a filter that would hold the coffee...and to then pour the hot water over the ground coffee and through the filter.

Today, this idea seems blindingly obvious to us. But back then, nobody had thought beyond just mixing the water and the coffee grinds together. To just pour hot water over the coffee grinds was a revolutionary concept.

And yes, as we know, the result is a great coffee taste without the bitterness.

Her idea – the conical filter paper - was patented on July 8th, 1908. Six months later she and her husband started a company and began to manufacture and market the filters.

Now for the fun part...her name.

Her name was Melitta Benz. And yes, her Melitta conical coffee filters are still selling well, under the Melitta brand name.

That’s pretty amazing. She sold her first conical filters over 100 years ago. And you can still go to your local store and buy Melitta filters today.

Comments for Who invented the paper coffee filter?

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Jun 24, 2011
needless to say........
by: pistachio

.............Melitta was obviously not Turkish !! [ LoL ]

Jun 24, 2011
The car, too
by: Tom WElsh

Leave us not forget her next invention was the Melitta Benz automobile,until she renamed the company after her first daughter, Mercedes. (Or am I getting this mixed up with Henry and Edsel Ford?)

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