Coffee makers: How baseball put them in our homes

I tend to raise early yet am not really a morning person. My first act is to brew a pot of coffee. As it brews I use the time to contemplate. For years now, every morning, starring at my coffee pot I’ve contemplated one thing: Why do I have a drip coffee maker, when my parents had only a percolator a vastly inferior way to make coffee. This started me on a quest for an answer. After much work I now have the answer baseball. I will explain, but first a bit of history about coffee making. Today’s machines are automatic drip coffee makers. This is the best way to make coffee, but until now has been too demanding to do well. You start with water that is exactly twelve degrees below boiling then pour it slowly over ground coffee beans encased in a filter. Usually the filter was cloth, which contaminated the coffee unless cleaned everyday. This was too much for most people, so home coffee making was dominated by the percolator. The percolator had the virtue of being automatic, but the negative was terrible coffee, often described by coffee lovers as sludge. We all love hearing the perc of a percolator, but its actually a bad thing. The perc comes from the boiling water, which is too hot for making good coffee. Each time the water percs through the grounds the coffee becomes more bitter. A taste so bitter that the percolator drove coffee sales to an all-time low by the mid nineteen sixties. In this decade the Bunn Company of Springfield Illinois perfected an automatic drip coffee maker for restaurants. They replaced the cloth filter with a disposable paper one, and they perfected a way to boil the water and cool it slightly before dripping it slowly through the ground beans. This restaurant model made five pots at once, but it opened the door to making a home version. In 1972 Vincent Marotta of Cleveland Ohio designed the Mr. Coffee machine the first home drip coffee maker. The key to its success was baseball. Marotta felt he needed a big-name to change generations of percolator users into drip coffee maker users. Marotta who’d played with the St. Louis Cardinals turned to his hero: Joe DiMaggio, the pride of the Yankees. Now at the time DiMaggio wasn’t just an ordinary sports figure he was a legend with a bit of mystery due to his brief marriage with Marilyn Monroe. Marotta somehow got DiMaggio’s unlisted phone number in San Francisco and called one Saturday morning. DiMaggio answered. After Marotta pitched his ad campaign DiMaggio told him he’d just won a Mr. Coffee machine in a golf tournament and said his sister “is making coffee with it right now.” Yet the ex-baseball star wasn’t interested in being in a commercial, saying “I don’t do that kind of work.” The next day, Marotta and his wife flew to San Francisco, where Marotta called DiMaggio again and invited him to lunch. DiMaggio agreed. During lunch Joe DiMaggio’s expression barely changed yet when they shook hands after the meal, he agreed to make the commercials. And those commercials, with the integrity of Joe DiMaggio behind them, put Mr. Coffee on the map and coffee makers into nearly every American home. Watch this Engineer Guy video to see the ingenious pumping mechanism in a coffee maker.

100 thoughts on “Coffee makers: How baseball put them in our homes

  1. i don't trust americans (and many other nationalities that share similar tastes, i should add) when it comes to coffee.
    they think some puke-colored cardboard-tasting bubbly dirty water is coffee. coffee should be black as the night, and strong.

    btw percolators are better. they can make actual coffee

  2. So the difference between a drip maker and a percolator is that with the drip maker the water is a bit cooler when it hits the coffee grounds? That's it?

  3. Me I do a different tactic with coffee. I buy green dried coffee beans. Then I roast no more than 1lb at a time – into the grinder, into a French Press. And yes, water at precisely 200F is poured in.

  4. But I like strong coffee! My percolator makes it just right every time 🙂 Taste will always be subjective, but I don't find drip less bitter in any way except it's weaker on all tastes.

  5. The drip coffee maker is as far from being the best way to make coffe as jumping on one foot is from being the best way to commute.
    Stove-top espresso machines (like Mokas) cost nothing and are probably the best way to make coffee without buying a full on expensive espresso machine..

  6. So why is American coffee universally terrible compared with coffee in Europe… Those machines probably make ok fresh coffee, but then it sits for an unspecified time on a heated plate, becoming increasingly disgusting.

  7. I still keep a percolator that can make coffee on a gas range for when the electricity goes off during hurricanes and such.

  8. First time I disagreed with my favorite Engineer, perfect coffee comes from a FRENCH PRESS no boiling of coffee and it is just as Alfred Peet taught me to make it. Quality coffee with less bitterness comes with fresh ground coffee just before brewing, and never scaling the coffee, and a proper seep time. All of which is best done with a French Press.

  9. Why do people buy a coffee maker just because a baseball star who got PAID to endorse it said hey should? Makes NO sense at all. Sigh, humans…

  10. they are the most disgusting, as you explained simple to make less expensive not better, so sad they are till so prolific

  11. I will say, the drip coffee maker is not the best way to make coffee….. French press however, now that hits the spot 🙂

  12. funny. I ditched my drip maker for an electric perc and find the quality of the coffee is way better. I do agree that stovetop percs make terrible coffee, but it works on the campfire, so I have one of those too. Americans seem to like the bitter taste since I'm hard pressed to find light roasts over yucky dark roasts in most stores. You hit the reason for the drip's popularity though; it's all advertising.

    Question: do the newer electric percs heat up the water to boiling? Since the water in the container surrounding the uptube is relatively cold I would think the heated water in the tube wouldn't have to be so hot.

  13. 1:40 "The Bunn coffee maker could make 5 pots at once". Well, it made one at once, but could keep 5 warm.

  14. I don't think coffee from a stove-top percolator is any worse than from a drip brew. In fact, I think it is quite a bit better. It doesn't compare to a French press or chemex, but it can be quite good. But I will say that electric percolators are terrible.

  15. I love percolating coffee its so strong and will wake you up for work on Monday after a hard living weekend with the boys

  16. I find all the comments about what is the "best" kind of coffee and brewing method rather amusing… I knew a guy in college that, frequently lacking sufficient time in the morning to make coffee – or even instant coffee – would just pour a pile of the instant coffee crystals into his hand and then throw them into his mouth. Why waste time on all that "brewing" nonsense?!

  17. The Bunn machine shown couldn't brew 5 pots at once, it could keep 5 pots at serving temperature after they had been brewed one at a time.

    edit: I just recalled that my aunt used a dripolator back in the 1950s. I don't know just how it functioned – I was quite young at the time – but there were drip coffee makers before Bunn and Mr. Coffee.

  18. Wow, I've always felt drip coffee was the single worst form of coffee. Why didn't the US simply use an Italian expresso? It's stove top and very tasty. To this day I refuse to touch the bitter and burnt tasting drip coffee. Even plunger coffee is better.

  19. Drip coffee is okay, percolator coffee is better. I have an electric 12-cup percolator that I bought on Amazon about 6 months ago. First time I used it coffee was terrible; I tried different ratios of coffee/water and eventually found what works for me.

    In my opinion, percolators make great coffee – just learn how to use it properly.

  20. I think my Grandfather had one of the first ones – yes, used it for decades… First couple lines of commercially available models.
    By the time he died the thing was a cracking, partly melted sparking nightmare. He could have afforded to replace it thousands or more times, btw. just attached to it…
    He did advise us to trash it when he talked about eventualities as he got older "If you leave it plugged in, it'll burn the house down…" so we did in favor of a modern one better made with various UL safety features so you can let it burn the coffee to dust for days still on and not burn the house down. I know this by following his advice versus learning by stupid. Still, try not to leave it plugged in overnight. It's not espresso, that sludge in the bottom, its a crime against coffee…

    I remember lots of times going to the supermarket with him, me noting every price ticket – "Uh, you rang up $4.25 – it was on sale for $3… See that sign!? We get it FREE!"

    Just got a new one, I do every 5 years or so. I play with fun and exotic ones, but still have a "Mr Coffee" for most of my brewing!

  21. When I'm waiting for my coffee to brew I'm thinking about how I wish it was done brewing already. My morning coffee with cigarettes time is my very important meditation and peaceful contemplation time and no one is to consider me awake yet until that is done. It's one of those little things that makes life enjoyable. And yes, a percolator is a terrible way to make coffee.

  22. Lets see the ingenious bit of science by which a percolator moves the water to the top of the grounds. A 1930's Popular Science magazine had a brief description of a farmers ingenious method of cooking grain for his pigs, using a brake drum and pipe as the "percolator", which allowed the cook to proceed without burning or stirring. Never forgot that bit of ingenuity, and wonder if it was ever used in the food industry.

  23. Since I live about 5000' above sea level, a percolator should make perfect coffee here at a temperature @ 200' Farenheit

  24. Inferior? I cannot figure out why the more inferior or old school the method, the better the coffee tastes to me. I grew up with a percolator. In 1985 the first automatic drip coffee maker came into our home. It was used exactly 3 times. Then it took up residence in the attic, where it stayed until it was thrown away. Flash forward 34 years and a move to Europe and I have dreams about percolated goodness in a country convinced a automatic coffee factory that costs €2000 makes good coffee. Maybe it produces what a bunch of "experts" consider good coffee, but!!! When I roll out of the bunk at 1:00am after only 4 hours of sleep to get ready for my 15 hour work day, I need COFFEE! I don't need pretty swirls or leaves painted in the foam with a toothpick. I need 140 Octane, gritty, caffeine infused bitter sludge that melts the stainless steel spoon standing freely in it as it etches the Pyrex mug it's in before I inhale it a half gallon at a time. It isn't bitter, it's fully extracted. It isn't overheated, it's brewed to 100% efficiency. It may not have foam, but it isn't beer. I put my percolator on my gas cooker and in 10 minutes… BAM!!! My buddy has a spiffy 24 volt electric wwiz-bang top of the line, automatic this and blinking that type of contraption that he calls a coffee maker…. it takes 40 minutes to make 4 cups of liquid shit that tastes like foot and ass and leaves him looking for a jump after it kills his batteries.
    It's a matter of opinion, but when every minute of sleep is as precious as platinum, and you need serious caffeine, a percolator is the only way to go. I will admit to grinding my own beans though. You do after all have to use a coarser grind with a percolator, or you will be chewing more than drinking. That is the other thing a lot of people like to forget and then blame the percolator for. If you put gasoline in your diesel truck, well, it's kind of the same level.
    With all that said, long live that miraculous glass dome and it's bubbling goodness. Even if my wife prefers a kitchen top coffee factory. It isn't the first thing men don't understand about women.

  25. Sorry, this is just more drip coffee machine maker propaganda.
    Most percolators didn’t use ANY filters. When drip makers came into use in the 1970s (I remember this) no one was saying they made great coffee. They said they made fast coffee, or easy coffee or idiot proof coffee because you didn’t have to tend the pot. (You could go back to bed! THAT’S what made them popular.) Early marketing ads show Mr. Coffee introduced their own paper coffee filters “to remove bitter taste.”
    And if you take the temp of percolator coffee after perking for the usual recommended 8 minutes you’ll find it to be under 200 degrees Fahrenheit- less than boiling. So perked coffee isn’t boiled coffee unless you don’t know how to use a percolator.😂

  26. It was my understanding that reason coffee sales were so low in the 50s 60s was that coffee was garbage, made by a few mass produced companies that sold over processed, over cooked beans, and it took till the era of StarBucks for "coffee" to become trendy and novel.

  27. "the best coffee"? That's very presumptuous. But I guess it's the biased American opinion on their own choices and inventions

  28. That's all well and good, but the best coffee with none of the usual negative attributes is made by boiling it in a pot for two to three minutes. "Cowboy Coffee". A percolator should work fine too, so long as it is able to boil for long enough… I love my percolators, and NO filters to buy and throw away!

  29. I'm a big fan of the French press, except for cleaning up the grounds when done. Use regular coffee grinds instead of the coarser grinds that are recommended.

  30. Even to this day very few drip coffee makers get their water up to 195 degrees(Min). A percolators has no problem with that. A decent Drip coffee maker cost about 300 bucks.

    A Mr. coffee machine taste nasty. They use a drip coffee maker simply for its convenience. Taste has nothing to do with it. I drink coffee from all types of machines and a percolators does a pretty decent job.

    I did not realize that Joe DiMaggio was responsible for our coffee sucking the last 50 years. Thanks for nothing. Good video, interesting information.

  31. A cup of Joe is slang for "a drink for the every man." Your average Joe. First recorded use of the word comes from 1930.

  32. I used to work in a thrift store we got a-lot drip coffee makers, this video made me think of the time i had to test them

  33. In order to get something close to a decent cup of coffee, from a percolator, is to use coffee beans with almost no acid. Something that is not easy to find. I have had some which i tried in as percolator and was pleasantly surprised by the results. That same coffee is very humdrum when brewed by any other method.
    It is the boiling of the coffee that makes makes it so bitter.
    I prefer French press (cowboy coffee) or use individual paper filtres. Those Mr. Coffee style coffee makers are only good for the first cup. It quickly becomes "security guard" coffee, even with quality beans.

  34. Speak for yourself: I use a stovetop one with decent (non-US) coffee and clean it properly, so I get decent (non-US) coffee every time.

  35. I just came from Italy this past few weeks and now realize why the Italians hate how we make coffee and why most other Europeans agree. We think drip coffee is coffee…it's not, at least not to the people who first started coffee and prefected it, the Italians.

  36. I used to live in Martinez CA, and met Joe DiMaggios cousin.
    She's very siclian looking. Has his mouth and eyes, but darker.
    She met Marilyn and said, she was quite smart. That little girl act was her schtick

  37. I've never tried drip coffe in my life, I think. Only from these barista machines in shops and my Bialetti at home.

  38. Baseball didn't bring the coffee maker into our homes but advertising did. Secondly, when you make coffee on the stove it is far superior than anything a drip machine can produce.

  39. I don't know who percolated that "horrible" cup for you, but percolators make a much smoother, richer cup than a drip machine. Drip machine became household items for TWO reasons:
    1. Ease of use
    2. Less mess

  40. Or just make it propper way….boiling watr and put ground coffe in the water…..cant get much simpler then that…..

  41. As someone who grew up in the 21st century, its hard for me to imagine a time when coffee tasted like absolute dogshit.

  42. When you said drip coffee is better than percolators you lost me right there you obviously don't know how to make or enjoy coffee sir good day

  43. I prefer percolated coffee. I think it's because that's what my dad made every time we went camping and we all drank it.

  44. feel like i need to point out this error…those Bunn-O-Matic coffee makers for diners and such can NOT brew 5 pots simultaneously; rather, it can merely keep 5 pots of coffee WARM at the same time…it's still only capable of actually brewing one pot at a time. kind of a major oversight there.

  45. We had a "drip-o-lator" when I was a child. It was very similar to a percolator in size and materials, and it was if anything less complicated in design: water was boiled separately in a pot, then added to the top and allowed to drip down. If it was too bitter, add milk, use less coffee, or switch to a different brand — the brand of coffee is MUCH more important than if it is dripped or percolated. In other words, this video is nonsense from the word go.

  46. Why did I get this recommended? I don’t drink coffee or seen any coffee related video.

    But you do now have a new subscriber

  47. It's gonna sound odd but I like perked coffee. I guess it's gots to do with my love of camping and that's how my dad made the coffee while camping. All coffee to me is bitter so it being "more bitter" via perking is something I can't tell.

  48. I think this guy is a total lier. No way he wakes up brows a cup of coffee and contumlats. I don't think this is forgivable

  49. Say what you will, but electric percolators with an automatic shutoff make some of the best coffee I have ever tasted. Stovetop models make sludge if you aren't careful though. Percs are more of a pain to use and clean than auto drip models. I think convenience had more to do with the switch than people give it credit for.

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