It may not be the best automatic drip coffee maker available, but the Mr. Coffee coffee maker was the first brand to hit the home market in 1972. In business, you either have to be the first or the best if you want to have guaranteed success. Okay, so you can get away with being second best and still succeed, but it’s not guaranteed.
Mr. Coffee and Joe DiMaggio
When the commercials started appearing on television in 1972, Joe DiMaggio was the celebrity spokesman pitching it for the company. Joe DiMaggio was a famous baseball player who played exclusively for the New York Yankees from 1936 to 1951. He died in 1999 at the age of 84. Anyway, automatic drip coffee makers, like Mr. Coffee, suddenly started appearing in kitchens across America.
I don’t know if it was the product or Joe that convinced my mother to buy a Mr. Coffee, but she bought one nevertheless. I don’t remember exactly when she bought it; I know she bought before we moved to Hawaii in 1974.
Automatic Drip Coffee Makers versus Coffee Percolators
When the automatic drip coffee makers first came out, the coffee didn’t taste as good after brewing as it did with the percolators. The trouble was that the grind available in most stores was still designed for percolators. After the grind specifically made for automatic drip coffee hit the market, I couldn’t tell the difference anymore.
There are some that lament the obsolescence of the percolators, saying they were more “green” than the current coffee makers are. They cite the paper being used for the filters and water evaporation as being “non-green”.
They obviously haven’t heard that certain fast-growing trees are being used solely for the paper and yet it’s still recyclable. The new trees reach maturity before they’re even needed. I don’t buy the water idea either. A percolator puts out as much steam as an automatic drip coffee maker. I only had to put my hand above a spout one time to find that out.
In this day and age, the best coffee makers for home use are automatic drip coffee makers because they’re more widely supported by the coffee industry. As with any technology, that may change and something better may come along.
Unlike other brands, the Mr. Coffee name has become somewhat of a cultural icon. It was parodied as “Mr. Fusion” in the Back to the Future movie trilogy and as “Mr. Radar” and “Mr. Rental” in the Spaceballs movie. The actual coffee maker made cameo appearances in TV shows and other movies, playing itself and has been included in the lyrics to songs and gets referenced in short stories.
I don’t know what the Mr. Coffee automatic drip coffee maker did to be such a popular cultural icon. Oh yeah, it was first.
[Originally published in October, 2008]