How Is Your A.M. Coffee Related To Women's History?

March is Women’s History Month (hurray!), and as a bona fide caffeine addict, I feel it is my duty to elevate and celebrate Melitta Bentz — without her, we might not have our morning drip coffee. 

Melitta was a housewife from Dresden who invented the paper filter using her son’s school notebook. Prior to this simple (and genius!) application of paper, cups of coffee were full of grounds, overly bitter, and the linens used to strain the beans had to be washed repeatedly (boring!). Frau Bentz’s paper filter was easy to use, cheap to make, and disposable! She filed her patent in 1908, and the rest is history.

Thanks to her, an entire industry was born, and it's important to note that her method is still one of the most popular ways of brewing in the world — by some estimates, 60% of all coffee is made in this way! I am personally grateful to Bentz, because her contribution to history means that I am not a zombie every morning. Melitta Bentz, we honor you.

While you are still enjoying the buzz from your morning brew, here are a few other fun, caffeine-related facts to think about:  

•  Legend has it that coffee beans were first discovered in Ethiopia when a shepard noticed his goats acting all crazy. If you immediately are thinking of this excited goat, you are not alone.
• Coffee beans spread to Yemen from Ethiopia, and it wasn’t until 1615 that merchants from Venice brought coffee to Italy.
• By 1750, coffee had spread throughout most of Western Europe. 
• Coffee became so popular in Germany (then Prussia) that King Frederick the Great banned it in order to bolster beer sales (market manipulation, much?).
• One of my favorite National Geographic articles makes the interesting point that it is probably not coincidence that coffee and tea caught on just as the Industrial Revolution was taking hold. This marked the first time in history humans had to ignore their circadian clocks (which are set by sunrise and sunset), and instead work according to a factory clock.
•  According to Distractify and BuzzFeed, the first webcam was invented and set up at Cambridge University to livestream a coffee pot being filled. That way, it would spare people the desperate disappointment of arriving to find the pot empty (this makes me feel better about my coffee addiction).  


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