News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 13, 2012

RONN MOTT: Simple Inventions

Ronn Mott
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — I think about this once or twice a week and I realize I am working with one of the great inventions of the 20th Century.

We have to back to about the 9th Century when someone in Ethiopia discovered coffee. The true story will probably never be known. But it is certain that coffee drinking went from Ethiopia to the Sufi monasteries in Yemen. By the 16th Century the complete Middle East was drinking coffee. Coffee then spread to the Italian city states, the Balkans, and the rest of Europe.  

Holland was the first country in Europe to grow their own beans. The word coffee entered the English language in the 16th Century from the Dutch word “koffie.” And, of course, it became almost instantly popular in America.  

I like my coffee rather strong. I use a scoop that’s slightly larger than a tablespoon. I put four of those scoops in the filter with a sprinkling of cocoa on top. Suffices for about five and one-half cups of coffee. If you don’t like strong coffee, you won’t like mine.  

I remember quite well from my mother’s kitchen, my aunts’ kitchens, and my grandmother’s kitchen, that cleaning the coffee pot was a chore. My mother used this newspaper (actually The Morning Star) to drop coffee grounds into and attack the cleaning of the coffee basket with whatever she had in hand. This was before we became so dependent upon paper towels because, at that time, there were no paper towels.

I dump my old coffee grounds and cocoa into the trash, very easily. Because thanks to a coffee filter, none of the wet grounds gets into the coffee basket. Very nicely done. Great coffee, the basket is dumped, and there is no mess to clean up. I don’t suppose the coffee filter will go down as one of the all-time great inventions, but for those of us who drink coffee … and make our own, the coffee filter is just so superior. We enjoy our coffee and its flavors, and the clean-up is simple.  

For those of us who drink the dark liquid that began as an invigorating brew, we can thank the paper-thin coffee filter for making our task of brewing more pleasurable. I’m reminded of that old song, “I love coffee, I love tea, I love the java jive and it loves me.”

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.