The Creation of Mr. Coffee, Vincent Marotta, Sr.
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June 29, 2009

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Aahhh…coffee. Millions of rise and shiners sip a cup or two, or sometimes five cups of java each morning. The rich and bold roasted aromas characterized to that fresh drip, only identifiable to the café potion, are distinctive to coffee lovers and non-lovers alike. And, what is just as recognizable to millions of coffee lovers and non-lovers countrywide is the Mr. Coffee Maker brand. That home brew percolator of choice was the invention of Clevelander Vincent Marotta, a.k.a. the inventor of Mr. Coffee.

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In 1968 Marotta conceived this groundbreaking idea. Motivated to develop and enhance the at-home coffee making technique, he knew there was a better way to brew coffee…an improvement that would make the existing “old” form of percolation easier. Vincent recruited two Westinghouse engineers, Edward Able and Erwin Schulze, to man the technical facets of the developmental process. (Mr. Able initially held the patent. He signed over the rights to North American Systems, NAS). Marotta and his partner, Sam Glazer began the Mr. Coffee Company as a coffee delivery service, and in 1972 NAS began to produce the coffeemaker. Marotta’s coffee concept forever changed how Americans sip their automatic drip, fast and convenient.

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The Mr. Coffee models became the best-selling, must-have coffeemakers in the U.S.A. The first model was a two-cupper. In an instant, success was not only enjoyed by Marotta and Glazer, but also by all the coffee beaners stateside. In 1973, the legendary Joe DiMaggio became the national spokesperson for the Mr. Coffee products! Now, that was full-bodied, alright…especially since Joe DiMaggio was Marotta’s boyhood hero and had a great reputation with people. Side note: Vincent was an excellent athlete. He won All-Ohio football honors his freshman at Mount Union College and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. Then came Word War II. Marotta had enlisted the fall before, and he had been called for active duty.

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But it wasn’t an instant cup of Joe with DiMaggio, no it wasn’t! On Vincent’s first attempt, DiMaggio wasn’t interested and told him no…which was not what Marotta wanted to hear. So, the very next day Marotta and his wife jumped on an airplane bound for San Francisco, where DiMaggio lived. Joe agreed to do lunch with Marotta, and one way or another Vincent was able to talk him into being the spokesperson…a role that DiMaggio filled for years to come.

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By 1974, NAS had sold one million makers. The Mr. Coffee enterprise was responsible for ten percent of coffee producing in the United States. By 1975, nearly 38,000 Mr. Coffee machines were being sold a day! In 1979, annual sales topped $150 million and had captured over half of the automatic drip marketplace. Not only were Mr. Coffee products original, they made sense and were affordable for consumers.

The product-line was rich. The Mr. Coffee “Coffee Saver” was introduced to cut costs at a time when coffee prices had skyrocketed in the economy. Then came the first Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker. Then in 1979, Mr. Coffee started adding the timers. Oh the timers…quite possibly the most wizardry add-on of all add-ons. Then came the four-cup pot in 1985. Wow.

After 16 years of pouring the drip of life to the coffee social group, Glazer and Marotta sold their Mr. Coffee giant to a private company in 1989. Today, the Sunbeam Corporation and American Household, Inc. have acquired the Mr. Coffee production rights.

There is no question that Mr. Coffee changed the coffee scene by influencing legions of coffee drinkers and companies for the ever. Mr. Coffee still holds the number one spot as the world’s best-selling home use coffee maker, and Cleveland still holds the birthplace of the Mr. Coffee creation.