The History of Hipster Coffee

Food & Drink Gifts

Do you know the origin of pour-over coffee? Honestly, neither did we. Being traders of fine coffee gifts for men, we feel obliged to serve you up a steaming cup of history. Let’s go back to a simpler time, when tall, grande and venti were words only spoken in Italy.

The year was 1908 and coffee was having a moment. Sure, the liquid gold had been around for a while, and it caught on in the name of patriotism after the Boston Tea Party, but this was the year the drink finally became a worldwide morning mainstay for rich, poor, young and old. The only problem: Brewing methods weren’t very refined. Espresso machines were unwieldy and expensive, and other techniques were messy or left bitter grounds at the bottom of the cup. Enter German entrepreneur Melitta Bentz.

One day, inside her humble Dresden kitchen, Bentz decided she was fed up with her mediocre brew and started to experiment. Eventually, our coffee savior drilled a hole in the bottom of a brass cup, lined it with a piece of her son’s notebook paper, and filtered water through the grounds. The ensuing cup was aromatic, full-bodied and smooth, like no other she had tasted before. It didn’t have a name yet, but Bentz had just given birth to pour-over coffee (and, one might argue, hipsters).

In the ensuing years after her epiphany, Bentz patented the idea and enlisted her family to help sell the filters and filter paper. The crew was the talk of the 1909 Leipzig Fair, selling 1,200 filters on the spot and never looking back. No word on whether or not they mastered caramel macchiatos, though. Bentz and her family parlayed that success into a single-cup coffee empire, named Melitta, that still exists today. If you’re spending $5 for a cup o’ joe at a shop like Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, Philz or elsewhere, chances are they’re using Bentz’s method.

A quick primer for the non-coffeephiles: When we reference pour-over coffee, we’re not talking Keurig or Krups. This is analog, hand-crafted, one-cup-at-a-time stuff. There’s a whole bunch of science that goes into just WHY Bentz’s method gives us amazing coffee, but we won’t bore you (it involves gases, temperature control and other science things). The important part is to taste the difference, and appreciate the simplicity. Here are increasingly fancy ways to perform the pour-over process.

Melitta Plastic Filter Cone, $3
Melitta’s namesake lives on today in the form of a ceramic cone and this plastic one, available for $3. This is the perfect entry-level option.

Hario V60, $23
Here’s where we start to get snobby. The V60 was pioneered in Japan and is now the vehicle of choice for big brands like Stumptown Coffee, which even offers step-by-step instructions. The problem with the V60: It needs special filters, and they aren’t exactly easy to find.

Chemex, $43
Before Peter Schlumbohm invented the Chemex, his other failed patents included unburnable gasoline, a writing utensil, a color-correcting mirror, and ‘a method of illuminating rooms.’ His pitch for the successful coffee maker? “With the Chemex, even a moron can make good coffee,” he told Time in 1946. If you’re looking for a great #longread, popular coffee blog Sprudge takes a journey into the company’s modern-day operations.

Personalized Mug Mini Crate

Look, any coffee enthusiast knows that a drink is only as good as the vessel through which it is consumed. Serving a flawless batch of brew in a flimsy paper cup? Preposterous. Luckily for your favorite coffee-addicted acquaintance, our crate includes 15 oz. of freedom—a stainless-steel, laser-etched, personalized mug ready to handle the hottest coffee you can find. Just make sure it’s good stuff.