The history of coffee is quite long, sometimes sad, and economically complicated, but many inventions were brought to life regardless of the difficult times. One of those inventions is the coffee maker, the machine that dominates the coffee brewing scene in the U.S. Drip-brew coffee makers are easy to use, and some have a lot of bells and whistles, so it’s no surprise that they’re incredibly popular.
When people hear the word ‘coffee maker,’ they usually think of drip brewers, which proves their popularity amongst coffee drinkers. Yet, we rarely think about when the coffee maker was invented, let alone who invented it. Let’s dive into the history and invention of the coffee maker, America’s favorite coffee brewing machine:
The Invention of the Drip-Brew Coffee Maker
The drip-brew method of brewing coffee with a coffee maker is a newer concept than other brewing methods, especially the Turkish brewing style. The first known inventor of drip-style brewing of coffee was Sir Benjamin Thompson, an accomplished inventor that created both the first drip brewer and a coffee percolator around the 1780s. Although he did start the idea of drip-brewing coffee, his percolator invention is what he’s most famous for in the coffee world.
However, it wasn’t until a few centuries later that the concept of a drip coffee maker came to full circle. Invented in 1908, Melitta Bentz created the first disposable coffee filter using blotting paper as a filter. She then put the disposable filter in a tin can with holes in the bottom to brew her coffee, creating the first filtering coffee maker. While Thompson started the idea, Bentz is often credited as the inventor because of her disposable filter and can setup that led to the rise of coffee makers.
The K-Cup Revolution of Coffee Brewing
It’s impossible to talk about coffee maker inventions without mentioning the Keurig and coffee pod brewers simply because of how they revolutionized coffee brewing and convenience. The Keurig brewing machine was invented in 1992, bringing forth the idea of single-serve coffee. The K-Cups have little filters inside with ground coffee, so the coffee tastes very similar to drip-brew coffee.
Between having a freshly brewed cup of coffee every single time or not having to wait for a full pot of coffee before work, the Keurig machine took off almost immediately. While many still swear by their traditional coffee makers, there’s no denying that coffee pod machines are here to stay. Although it’s far from the first coffee maker in history, the Keurig truly changed the coffee-brewing game.
Before the Invention of the Coffee Maker
While the coffee maker is a newer invention, there are other brewing machines and methods that came much earlier in history:
The percolating coffee pot’s impact on coffee brewing can’t be underestimated since nothing like it really existed before. Invented in the 1780s by Sir Benjamin Thompson, he created it while tasked with taking care of the Bavarian Army’s soldiers. Percolators are still used today, but their popularity has been on the decline due to easier and more convenient brewing methods.
Another revolutionary coffee brewer that changed the taste and body of coffee, the first attempt at a coffee pressing device might be from France or Italy. The first patent official patent of a pressing device for coffee was filed in 1852, but the first official French Press was patented in 1924 by Marcel-Pierre Paquet dit Jolbert.
Although it does have a little more work than a coffee maker, the French Press is still a popular method of brewing coffee. It tastes different than drip-brewed coffee in that it lowers the acidity and raises the body, so it’s perfect for darker roasts and iced coffee. The French Press may not be as popular as the coffee maker, but it’s still an important brewing device and created its own niche in coffee brewers.
Before automatic coffee brewers and electricity, people had to rely on other methods to brew their coffee. Many people simply boiled water and put their coffee beans in, which usually resulted in bitter, acidic coffee. However, the Turks started brewing their coffee with a unique system around the 16th century that is still practiced today.
Turkish brewing involves hot sand, and small containers called a cezve or ibrik, which creates a completely unique flavor profile. The hot sand helps regulate temperature and is the traditional method, but Turkish coffee is also doable without sand. The result is a cup of bold coffee that has a strong flavor and bitter taste with lots of oils, but traditional recipes call for sugar to bring the flavors together.
The coffee maker is the usual go-to in the US to make coffee, offering convenience and a tasty cup of coffee for millions of coffee drinkers each year. Yet, most people don’t know about the history and the inventors behind it. Although it’s still a relatively new machine, the history behind it is not as new. Thanks to two separate inventors, Sir Benjamin Thompson and Melitta Bentz, we have the coffee maker that we know and love today. Except for the Keurig and coffee pod makers, few brewing machines can compare to the coffee maker’s popularity.
SEE ALSO: Who Invented the Coffee Filter?
Featured Image Credit: Kaffeetastisch, Pixabay