Melitta Bentz (1873-1950) invented the drip brew, paper coffee filter after experimenting with coffee grounds, blotting paper and a tin pot in which she’d punched holes. The Imperial Patent Office in Berlin granted Bentz the patent for the paper filter in June 1908. She, and husband, Hugo Bentz ran the company ‘Melitta’ as a family business, initially, from their apartment in Dresden (the place of her birth). The couple had a daughter, and two sons, Willy and Horst, who later joined the business.
BUILDING THE BRAND
The Melitta® lettering is an identity that has served the brand so incredibly well. The logo lettering and the colour scheme have been set since 1937. By this time the founder, Melitta (and Hugo) had stepped away from operations, though her legacy of being a fair employer was to prove long lasting.
During the tumultuous years of wartime, it is understood that the company turned their attentions to supplying the military, resulting in a temporary cessation of producing coffee filters. Nevertheless, by 1954 earthenware pots and filter cones were being produced in their millions. Information source: Article in The New York Times.
Melitta® began selling coffee in 1962. Melitta® was the first coffee roaster in Germany to offer ground and vacuum-packed coffee. Roasting initially took place in Minden, North-Western Germany– then roasting was switched to Cherry Hill, New Jersey. In 2010 this NJ plant underwent a multi-million dollar modernisation. Note: The company’s premium World Harvest Coffee Collection is 100% Fair Trade certified.
Melitta coffee filters are manufactured in Clearwater, Florida, and have seen many reincarnations over the years from non-bleached versions, to Bamboo, (a naturally renewing resource).
Today the private-owned and internationally operating Melitta Group , still famous, in the main, for its range of coffee and coffee related products, is a group of companies of numerous brands. B2C include Cilia , and Bacofoil (owned by Melitta GmbH Group’s subsidiary company Cofresco Foodservice owners of many well-known B2B catering brands) is an example. Other companies are brands of air cleaners and humidifiers, vacuum bags and cleaning products.
The Melitta Group remains headquartered in Minden where it has been situated since Melitta and Hugo moved out of their Dresden base in 1929.
One of Minden’s significant museums even has a coffee museum and a Melitta Cafe attached to it (see image below)
The Melitta Group’s key areas of business are the development, manufacture and sale of brand-name products for coffee consumption, storage and preparation of food stuffs, and household cleaning. Manufacturers of these types of goods for trade and the consumer markets will be under intense scrutiny more and more. We acknowledge that growth, change and tradition are already associated with the long history of the Melitta Group, but it is because of the nature of what the group produces, and the operations and processes involved in doing that, means that ‘sustainability’ will have to be high on the list of importance going forward, and we are sure it is.
I hope TSS readers have enjoyed the return to publishing a Business of the Month feature. Profiling the Melitta Group has been an interesting reintroduction to the theme.