RIP Vincent Marotta Sr, who kickstarted our disposable coffee culture

vince and joe
Promo image Vince and Joe enjoying a cup of Mr. Coffee

When I was a kid, most people used a percolator to make coffee. It was fun to watch and listen to as the coffee hit the glass knob on the top, but it didn’t make very good coffee, recirculating and reboiling the coffee as the vapour pressure pushed it up the stem in the middle. It was also messy, cleaning out that metal basket.

Then Vincent Marotta Sr, a struggling real estate developer looking for something to do, and his partner Samuel Glazer hired some engineers and came up with Mr. Coffee. It pumped water at the right temperature just once through coffee held in a paper filter. The result: better tasting coffee and a much easier cleanup. And a lot of paper waste.

Mr. Coffee became a cultural icon, from the Joe Dimaggio commercials that were hugely popular; in the New York Times obit they write:

Much of the brand’s success owed to its ubiquitous television ads featuring Joe DiMaggio. Mr. Marotta, a former pro football player who had also signed with Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals, personally recruited Mr. DiMaggio; as a result of the campaign, “millions of kids grew up thinking Joe DiMaggio was a famous appliance salesman.”

UPDATE: See first comment. Mr. Marotta popularized the automatic drip machine but did not invent it.

mr fusionBack to the Future/Screen capture

To this day, almost every coffee maker on the market that isn't a pod machine works on the basic principles of Mr. Coffee. The whole idea of Mr XXX has become a cultural touchstone. And it wastes a whole lot less stuff than a pod machine and the coffee is better tasting too. Vincent Marotta Sr., dead at 91. Rest in peace; you did good.

RIP Vincent Marotta Sr, who kickstarted our disposable coffee culture
What a difference a disposable filter makes. But the machine also made better coffee.

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