Remember When Mr. Coffee Was the Only Coffee Maker?

The mustachioed man in the center of the room took a drag of his electric cigarette and began his story.

“Beatrice bought me a Mr. Coffee when we had first started dating.  This was before we were married.  Up until that time I had to get my coffee by crashing the lobbies of Holiday Inns and taking advantage of the complimentary coffee they serve to people they believe are guests.  The Mr. Coffee changed my life.  Just put in the filter, scoop a few scoops of coffee, and pour in the water.  So easy a caveman could do it.

“But an easy life has a way of becoming more complicated, and married people have a way of become less married.  One day Beatrice was gone, and it was Janice in my life with pouty lips and Cuisinart coffee brewer that grinded coffee beans and kept track of appointments.  I thought that this was the one, the coffee brewer that would make coffee that when I drank it, I could taste it, just like Quentin Tarantino’s character in ‘Pulp Fiction.’

“Yet it was not to be.

“When the thrill of assembling the seventeen-pieces of the grinder/feeder/cannon at 6:00 a.m. had worn off, I realized that the Cuisinart grinder was too high-maintenance.  Time to say toodle-oo.”

He took another drag of his cigarette and adjusted his scarf, and I remembered that I was supposed to be taking notes.  I had a notebook but nothing to write with except a pink highlighter.  I wrote with it anyway.  Beggars cannot be choosers.

The mustachioed man continued.

“I brought Mr. Coffee back from the basement and used it instead of the Cuisinart.  When Janice asked me what I was doing, I told her that the Cuisinart was too complicated and poured in a dollop of my Silk soy creamer.  The next day there was a Dear John next to the filters, and Mr. Coffee and I were alone again.  But not for long.

“Noreen moved in with a French Press.  It had been a gift from her mother for learning how to reply to the sender of group emails without replying to all.  The French Press may have made excellent coffee.  I would not know because I never figured out how to use it.  I did not get any coffee, and succeeded only in proving Boyle’s Law with respect to Medium Roasts.

“Grimka—oh, Grimka!  I remember your big eyes.  Your graceful, slender back and tendency to give answers in the tone of a question.  But mainly I remember your percolator.  One of the two tenets by which I lived my life was that the more cups of coffee you made at once, the better the coffee tasted.  The other tenet was that the the Powell family episodes of “Charles in Charge” better than the Pembroke family episodes.

“The percolator was so easy to use and made delicious coffee.  But when I dumped the grinds down the garbage disposal, for two nights running the garbage disposal could not get to sleep, and had to keep getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

“This time,” said the mustachioed man, unfolding, smoothing out, and then refolding his monogrammed pocket handkerchief, “I skipped that phase where there’s two coffee machines on the counter at once.  One day it was the percolator, and the next it was Mr. Coffee.  Grimka saw it, glared at me once, and then walked out of my life, sending her cat back for her clothes and Playstation 3.

“I knew then that I would never switch from Mr. Coffee to another coffee-making device.  Even if the device cleaned itself.  Even if the coffee tasted good.  Nothing would pry me from grips of my friend, my Mr. Coffee.

“Until I met Penelope.  We spent many weekends and holidays together.  I’ve never felt so close to anyone in my life.  True, Penelope was just a peel-off hologram that came with a bottle of Metamucil Fiber Caplets.  But she told me about the Keurig single-serve coffee.  I tried it and I have to admit, I love it.  You just pop in a cartidge, push a button, and drink.  The only thing to clean up is the little single-serve cartridge.  No filters.  No grinds.  No required data plans.  That coffee machine is the best thing that has ever happened to my morning.

“Of course, I could not say this to Mr. Coffee.  After all our years together, I did not want to break his heart.  So at first I put the Keurig on the counter next to Mr. Coffee, but a little ways back.  And I would use the Keurig only two days a week, and sometimes on the weekend.  Then I stopped using Mr. Coffee but kept using the Keurig the same amount.  Then I kind of turned Mr. Coffee away, towards the commemorative plate collection, so that he wouldn’t see that I was using the Keurig five to seven times a week.

“And then one day, I had company coming over, and needed to make room on the counter for someone’s apricot trifle.  I had to prioritize my kitchen appliances, and it was clear that Mr. Coffee was not going to make the cut.  I covered his brew basket with a paper towel, took him in my arms, and carried him down to the basement where he would live out its days on a plastic shelf next to the newspaper-fueled mixing bowl my entomologist got me for Christmas.

“I don’t regret my decision.  But sometimes, just sometimes, when I’m asleep, I think I hear something in the kitchen, like the sound of a plastic brew basket cutting a black electric cord.  I run downstairs but see nothing but the Keurig, safe and sound.  And I walk up to it, and put my arms around it, and whisper into its blue LCD screen that as long as we’re together, everything’s going to be all right.”

11 thoughts on “Remember When Mr. Coffee Was the Only Coffee Maker?

  1. this is awesome.
    We’ve been through two $15 Mr Coffee’s in the past five years. I love them. But then we got a huge french somethin’ or other. A caveman could not start it, methinks.

    1. Thanks, Ellie. Mr. Coffee is a total rockstar. But two of them wore out in 5 years? My own personal Mr. Coffee, pictured above, was given to me by my now-wife as an apartment-warming gift, shortly after we had started dating. That was nearly eight years ago and Mr. Coffee still works. Maybe could use a face lift, but still makes that coffee. And you can’t beat the price. I think you have to be Blaise Pascal to work the French Press. Pressure exerted on a confined pot of coffee transmits the scalding liquid equally in all directions throughout your kitchen.

  2. Nice post Mark. I wonder how many parallel paths there are out there. We’ve had the Mr. Coffee’s, the stainless steel Cuisinart that has like fifteen parts to take apart and wash, and now for the last couple years a Keurig coffeemaker. We just made a trip to Costco for my favorite Caribou Coffee, which we buy 160 cups at a time. Pricey, but worth it to me. I wonder what’s next?

    1. Thank you. I think the next step will be for the Surgeon General to decide that coffee is dangerous to our health. The government will start taxing it and before long a single Keurig cartridge will cost $11 and come with a little booklet that has a skull and crossbones on the cover. Restaurants, at first, will have special coffee-drinking sections, and later will send the coffee drinkers outside. In front of every diner and pancake house in the land will be a little pile of white coffee cups left by the shrinking band of coffee drinkers who were too lazy to look for the designated plastic receptacle. But for most of us, drinking coffee will have become so stigmatized that we’ll start each day with ale, just like they did in the Middle Ages.

      1. Mark, please step away from the Keurig coffeemaker, unless I am mistaken you are over caffeinated already. Just kidding.

        1. You are not mistaken. I’ve been up since 3:30 am but the Keurig is only partly responsible. The rest of the blame must be assigned to a broken sink and an exceptionally riveting Academy Awards.

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