In an era of aesthetically pleasing morning routines, a cheap electric coffee maker can feel out of date — something to begrudgingly use at the office rather than a kitchen appliance that brings joy. And, while I adore fancy coffee gadgets that necessitate a manual, multi-step ritual, there is one reason I reach for a standard Mr. Coffee machine every morning: its dead-simple “brew now” button, which immediately begins the process of caffeine absorption into my body.
The one-button operation eliminates the need for me to navigate the complexities of brewing temperatures and ratios while still half-asleep. I simply press it, and the machine begins to gurgle to life, heating water and forcing it up a tube onto the coffee grounds I’ve added. My only choice is how much coffee I’ll require to get through the day.
Truly, the most difficult part is the waiting. While its controls are nearly as simple as those on a Keurig, the Mr. Coffee requires a little more than simply inserting a pod and pressing the button. At the very least, you’ll need to pull out a paper filter, scoop in some coffee, and refill the tank prior to pressing brew. (However, this can be accomplished the night before.) Mr. Coffee’s simplicity allows you to add complexity to the process by using hand-ground coffee, reusable filters, and more, but without the ritual associated with more Instagram-friendly Moka pots, Aeropresses, and Chemexs.
While there are numerous other coffee makers with more advanced features that also activate with a single button press, it’s difficult to imagine a better implementation of this button than the one on my Mr. Coffee. It’s large enough that you don’t have to be exact in the morning. It also sounds incredible, though that is mostly due to the machine’s loud “click” when it begins heating up. However, because it activates immediately upon pressing the button, my brain interprets the click of the electronics as a button click (kind of like how newer AirPods play a sound whenever you squeeze the stem).
Given the quality of the button, it may come as a surprise that this is not a high-end coffee maker. My Mr. Coffee’s five-cup model is one of the brand’s more affordable options. (Note that a Mr. Coffee “cup” is not equivalent to the volumetric standard of measurement used in the United States — it is five ounces, which means that my machine can brew approximately two mugs of coffee.) According to my Best Buy order history, I purchased it for around $25 last year, shortly after starting at The Verge and realising my mornings had become too hectic to perform my Chemex ritual. This coffee maker has somehow become $4 cheaper since then.
While there are other coffee machines with identical buttons, an odd thing begins to happen when you upgrade to more expensive models: the buttons begin to deteriorate. I’ve seen coffee makers with a small brew button that is tucked into a crowded panel. Unbelievably, some even have touch-sensitive buttons.