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How and where did filter coffee originate?

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

Image: A Biggin Coffeemaker

Coffee has been consumed for centuries. During the early years the first coffee implement was the Ibrik pot, invented in the Middle East which still exists today and is more popularly known as the Turkish Coffee Pot. It does not use any form of filtering.

Filter coffee or coffee preparation by filtering of coffee grounds started in 18th century in Europe - first with a cloth sock and then later with a metal filter of the Mr Biggin’s pot. The sock filter is still used in a Japanese style of coffee preparation and is also popular in SE Asia.

Image: Definition of biggin - Oxford English Dictionary

19th century saw the invention of coffee siphon and the coffee percolator.

Paper filters were invented in early 20th century. Followed by the French press, Moka Pot, Chemex and the espresso machine.

This century has seen the invention of Aeropress till date.

As far as prevalence of filter coffee in India is concerned, the exact history is unclear to us. Although coffee cultivation stared in the 17th century in India, the first coffee house wasn’t opened till late 18th century. Even then, it was a ‘British’ only place and Indians were not allowed in.

We can assume that common Indians, if at all they drank coffee then, would be using the Ibrik pot, given that coffee beans came into India via the Middle East thanks to Baba Budan.¹

The first Indian coffee house was opened in 1940’s by the coffee board of India and was open to Indians too. It is somewhere around this time, the South Indian filter coffee pot is thought to have been invented. ¹

To sum up, cloth, metal and paper remain the predominantly popular materials of coffee filtering till date. There are other materials such as nylon glass and ceramic which have been used for same purpose over the years.

Image: Coffee Brewers poster

Designed by Sebastian Perez, Argentinian artist based in Patagonia, this poster features beautiful depictions of our favourite infusion and percolation coffee brewers throughout time. Purchase a print edition here.

¹ Note: the history of coffee consumption by Indians is our editor's own interpretation based on his understanding of world history of coffee. We would love to hear comments or any further definitive information on this topic

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