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Who Invented the Coffee Maker, and When? (History)

automatic drip coffee maker with glass pot

Coffee is one of the most popular and loved drinks worldwide, with a long and rich history and backstory. While coffee has been around for thousands of years, the coffee maker has a much shorter history—but with equal importance. The coffee maker started from a creative and innovative idea from Sir Benjamin Thomson, who invented the first percolator. After his idea, many improvements came, including the invention of Melitta Bentz, who created the idea for filtering coffee using blotting paper. Following these incredible minds, many innovations happened that led to the coffee maker that we know and love today.

To learn the brief and interesting history of how the coffee maker came to be and who are the minds behind the creation, read on below.

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How Was the Coffee Maker Invented

The newer concept of the coffee maker, also called the drip-brew coffee maker, was first introduced in the 1780s. The person behind the idea for a drip-brew coffee maker was Sir Benjamin Thompson, an inventor who was also credited with inventing a coffee percolator. Although Thompson was the man behind the idea, the drip-brew coffee maker was only popularized in 1908. A German entrepreneur, Melitta Bentz, was the first person to create a disposable coffee filter.

After being frustrated with coffee percolators, she came up with the idea and tried using blotting paper as a filter. Melitta places the disposable filter in a tin can with holes. This design was the revolutionary concept that led to the rise of coffee makers.

Drip coffee
Image Credit: N.Sritawat, Shutterstock

History of the Coffee Maker

The 1800s – The Percolator

The history of coffee makers begins with the first coffee percolator. The coffee percolator was invented by Sir Benjamin Thompson roughly around 1810. Percolators changed over the years, with their style continuously improving, but the first design didn’t include the tube where the boiling water would circulate. In 1819 a Persian tinsmith Joseph-Henry-Marie-Laurens included this necessity in his improved design, making percolators usable on stoves. The first patent for the coffee percolator was issued only in 1865 to a Massachusetts citizen James Nason.

1884–1906 – First Designs and Patents

After the first espresso machine was invented and patented in 1884 by Angelo Moriondo, the design wasn’t as popular as expected, and needed some upgrades. The revolutionary upgrades and improvements happened in 1901 and are credited to Luigi Bezzera. His patents were bought by Desiderio Pavoni, who founded a company in 1906 called La Pavoni. The espresso machines were produced commercially by this world-famous brand.

1908 – The Drip Coffee Maker

After being frustrated with percolators and their tendency to over-brew and ruin the taste of coffee, Melitta Bentz invented the first drip-brew coffee maker using blotting paper as a filter. Melitta founded a company bearing her name with such a high demand for coffee filters that workers had to do double shifts.

brewing coffee
Image Credit: subarasikiai, Pixabay

1927 – The First Large-scale Coffee Maker Production

A German subsidiary company, WMF, began producing the first series of large-scale coffee machines. The company continued to improve its coffee maker design and to grow and spread globally.

1928 – Invention of the French Press

While the first idea for a French press belongs to two French men, Mayer and Delforge, the first patent resembling today’s French press belongs to Italians Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta. Their French press resembles the modern design, although many improvements and innovations were yet to come.

1958 – The Ancestor of the Modern-day French Press

The most significant redesign of the French press happened in 1958 by a Swiss man Faliero Bondanini. This coffee maker’s popularity in France gave Chambord its French identity. It was manufactured in France under the famous name Chambord.

french press
Image Credit: Alexander Ishchenko, Shutterstock

The 1970s – The First Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

In the 1970s, the first automatic drip-brew coffee maker was invented and soon gained massive popularity. The company, Mr. Coffee, used the same method as Melitta Bentz to create the first automatic coffee maker. The automatic coffee maker had a reservoir filled with cold water and then heated. Once the water was brought to the boiling point, the steam would rise and condense into a tube, and the water was filled with coffee. The coffee would get filtered into a glass container.

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Final Thoughts

Coffee has an interesting and long history, and hopefully, the timeline above will help you put everything in perspective. Coffee started being a popular beverage a few centuries ago, and since then has had many improvements and upgrades to have the fantastic and various flavors it has today, which in large part is due to the wide varieties in brewing methods brought about by coffee makers.


Featured Image Credit: Rococo2018, Shutterstock

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