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Farewell, Mr. Coffee

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I’m not a sentimental guy, but when people of note pass on to the next life, it periodically registers on my radar. And that was the case recently when I saw an obituary in the newspaper for someone named Vincent Marotta Sr.

Who was Mr. Marotta? Well, he was the creator of the Mr. Coffee machine. A revolutionary appliance, if you ask me.

One of the first automatic drip coffee makers designed for home use, Mr. Coffee was first marketed in 1972 by Mr. Marotta and Samuel Glazer, and it was intended to replace the prevalent household percolator. It quickly became an overnight success, having been spurred on by television ads featuring New York Yankees great Joe DiMaggio.

What is the percolator, you might ask? It is the epitome of “old school,” and it operated by repeatedly forcing boiling or near-boiling water through a perforated metal basket of grounds. Through a crystal knob in the lid, users could peer into the pot’s dark heart, watching the coffee grow blacker and blacker.

Marotta and Glazer, however, designed a machine that worked differently — by heating water to only 200 degrees Fahrenheit and sending it downward through a paper-lined filter basket filled with grounds into a heated glass carafe, you could easily make a pot of coffee.

Mr. Coffee’s original retail price in 1972 was $39.99 — in today’s dollars, that would be $482.10. Today, it retails at about $226, so the price has actually dropped in real dollars. Now, that’s still about 10 times the cost of a single-serve Cafe Valet brewer, but Mr. Coffee has always been a bit more formal, with his use of a "Mr." But you can just call me Joe.

Either way, here’s to you Vincent Marotta. You had me at Mr. Coffee.

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