• From Tights to Paper

In celebration of Women's History Month, I hosted a seminar on Melitta Bentz, the German entrepreneur who invented the paper filter. You may know her company today by the name of 'Melitta Group'. Melitta Bentz wished to find the perfect way to brew coffee. She found the electric percolators left a very burnt and bitter tasting cup. And the espresso machines of the time almost always had grounds in the espresso. Through trial and error, she finally used her son's blotting paper from school and thus a business was born. My seminar focused on the pour over method. We used various different filter methods to simulate the process that Melitta went through in 1908.

The first filter method used were a pair of panty hose. I want to stress that these panty hose were brand new, out of the box Friday morning. I also boiled them in hot water for approximately 30 minutes and hung them to dry. This was to get rid of any left-over dye and fabric that may have still been on the panty hose. Once the panty hose were cleaned and dried, I cut off the foot portion and used that as the coffee filter. Because the material used is not naturally shaped like a cone, the usable area was much smaller than I expected. So, using a dose of 22g of coffee and 395g of water set to a medium fine grind, I started the brewing process.

The second filter method used was a cloth filter. This is a pretty common at home filter. The cloth filters are reusable and decently affordable. You want to pre-wet this filter (and the pour over vessel if it is ceramic like mine) to keep the cloth from soaking up too much heat from the water as well as the flavor from the coffee. I made sure to bloom the coffee by adding roughly 40g of water over the grounds and waiting about 30 seconds before adding the rest of the water in a slow circular motion. I used the same dose to water ratio as above.

The third and final filter method I used was paper. I pre-wet our paper filter and ceramic pour over vessel to get rid of the paper taste that can sometimes find its way in to the cup of coffee. And using the same dose to water ratio and pour over method as before I brewed the coffee.

What I found interesting was the resulting taste from each of the filter methods. With the panty hose, I found that the aromatics of the coffee were still present but it lacked body and in some ways tasted over extracted. If I were to do this again I would probably have a coarser grind for this method to encourage an even extraction. The overall taste was actually decent though. With the cloth filter the coffee seemed muddled and the individual flavor notes were very hard to pick out. The aromatics had a similar problem. Though the coffee tasted good and would be perfectly fine to drink. The paper filter was everyone's favorite. The aromatics and flavor notes of the coffee were present without being over powering and it was a much more balanced cup of coffee.