Mr. Coffee was the First Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

Mr. Coffee It may not be the best of the automatic drip coffee makers ever made available, but Mr. Coffee 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 advertisements started appearing on television in 1973, Joe DiMaggio was the celebrity spokesman pitching it for the company. Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio was a famous baseball player who played exclusively for the New York Yankees from 1936 to 1951.

Joe died in 1999 at the age of 84. Mr. Coffee automatic drip coffee makers and coffee makers like them suddenly started appearing in kitchens across America after he started promoting them. If I remember correctly, General Electric produced the first competitor to the Mr. Coffee automatic drip coffee maker.

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 but I know she bought it before our family 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 percolators. The trouble was that the grind available in most stores was still designed for a coffee percolator. After the grind specifically made for automatic drip coffee makers 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.

Today, the best coffee makers for home use are automatic drip coffee makers because they’re the most widely used coffee makers supported by the coffee industry. As with any technology, that could change and something more popular may come along.

Popular Culture

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 real coffee maker made cameo appearances in TV shows and other movies, playing itself, was included in the lyrics to certain songs and was referenced in short stories.

I don’t know what the Mr. Coffee automatic drip coffee maker did to become such a popular cultural icon. Oh yeah, it was first.

Originally published in June of 2013 — I’ve updated and corrected some information.

November 12, 2016


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