|Died||June 29, 1950 (aged 77)|
As a housewife, Bentz found that percolators were prone to over-brewing the coffee, espresso-type machines at the time tended to leave grounds in the drink, and linen bag filters were tiresome to clean. She experimented with many means but ended up using blotting paper from her son Willy's school exercise book and a brass pot punctured using a nail. When the grounds-free, less bitter coffee met with general enthusiasm, she decided to set up a business.
After being tired of using the brass machine to brew a cup of coffee for her husband each morning, Bentz decided to come up with a more efficient and practical way. She did a little kitchen-top experiment to make her life easier. By punching holes into brass coffee machine and a piece of blotting paper from her son's notebook, she filtered the coffee through the make shift filter. This method made making a pot of coffee more hygienic and easier to clean. This invention has been used for a century showing how revolutionary this innovation is. Bentz was able to start her drip coffee company and later became the first person to create coffee filters that make the coffee more aromatic for the enjoyment of the user.
The Kaiserliche Patentamt (Imperial Patent Office) granted her a patent on 20 June 1908, and on 15 December the company was entered into the commercial register with 73 Pfennig as "M. Bentz." After contracting a tinsmith to manufacture the devices, they sold 1,200 coffee filters at the 1909 Leipzig fair.
Her husband Hugo and their sons Horst and Willy were the first employees of the emerging company. In 1910, the company won a gold medal at the International Health Exhibition and a silver medal at the Saxon Innkeepers' Association. When the First World War erupted, metals were requisitioned for use in Zeppelin construction, her husband was conscripted to Romania, paper was rationed, and coffee beans import was impossible due to the British blockade, disrupting the normal business. During this time she supported herself by selling cartons.
Continuing expansion caused them to move their business several times within Dresden. By 1928 the demand for their products was so high that the 80 workers had to work in a double-shift system. As no satisfactory production facilities could be found in Dresden, the fast-growing company moved in 1929 to Minden in eastern Westphalia. By that time 100,000 filters had been produced.
Horst took over the company, now "Bentz & Sohn," in 1930. She transferred the majority stake in Melitta-Werke Aktiengesellschaft to Horst and Willy in 1932, but kept a hand in the business, ensuring that the employees were cared for, offering Christmas bonuses, increasing vacation days from 6 to 15 days per year, and reducing the working week to 5 days. Bentz fostered the company's “Melitta Aid” system, a social fund for company employees.
After the outbreak of World War II, production stopped and the company was ordered to produce goods to aid the war effort. At the conclusion of a war, the workers relocated for a time to old factories, barracks, even pubs, because the surviving portions of the main factory had been requisitioned as a provisional administration for the Allied troops, a condition that held for twelve years. By 1948, production of filters and paper had resumed, and at the time of her death at Holzhausen at Porta Westfalica in 1950, the company had reached 4.7 million Deutsche Marks.
The grandchildren of Melitta Bentz, Thomas, and Stephen Bentz, still control the Melitta Group KG headquartered in Minden in the east of North Rhine-Westphalia, with about 3,300 employees in 50 companies.
- Moses, Claire (September 5, 2018). "Overlooked No More: Melitta Bentz, Who Invented the Coffee Filter". New York Times. Archived from the original on 30 October 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
- "100 Years of Melitta / Our Brands - Your Trust". 100 Years of Melitta. Melitta. 2008. Archived from the original on 1 October 2008.
- Stanley, Autumn (1993). Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. p. 56. ISBN 9780813521978. OCLC 229208630. Retrieved December 6, 2018 – via Google Books.
- "Of Coffee and Filters" (PDF). Melitta. 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 11, 2007.
Deutsche Zentrale. (2012, June 14). Retrieved from https://www.germany.travel/en/ms/german-originality/heritage/melitta-bentz-melitta.html How One Woman Used Her Son's Notebook Paper to Invent Coffee Filters. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.foodandwine.com/coffee/history-of-the-coffee-filterMelitta Bentz biography, list of Melitta Bentz inventions. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.edubilla.com/inventor/melitta-bentz/ Overlooked No More: Melitta Bentz, Who Invented the Coffee Filter. (2018, September 05). Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/05/obituaries/melitta-bentz-overlooked.html