In the age of aesthetically pleasing morning routines, a cheap electric coffee maker can feel a bit dated — something to begrudgingly use at the office rather than a gadget that brings joy to your kitchen. And while I love the fancy coffee gadgets that require a manual, multi-step ritual, there’s one thing that makes me turn to a standard Mr. Coffee machine every morning: its dead-simple “brew now” button that instantly starts the process of getting caffeine into my body.
The single-button operation means I don’t have to navigate the complexities of brewing temps or ratios while I’m still half-asleep. I just press it, it lights up, and the machine gurgles to life, heating up water and pushing it up a tube onto the coffee grounds I’ve added to it. The only decision I have to make is how much coffee I’ll need to get through the day.
While its controls are about as simple as a Keurig’s, the Mr. Coffee does need you to do a little more than popping in a pod and pressing that button. At the very least, you’ll have to get out a paper filter, scoop in some coffee, and fill up the tank before pressing brew at some point. (Though this can be done the night before.) The Mr. Coffee’s simplicity lets you complicate the process with hand-ground coffee, reusable filters, and more if you choose to, but it doesn’t require the ritual that comes with more Instagram-friendly Moka pots, Aeropresses, and Chemexs.
While there are plenty of other coffee makers with fancier features that also turn on with a single button press, it’s hard to imagine a better version of this button than the one on my Mr. Coffee. It’s big enough that you don’t have to be precise early in the AM. It also sounds incredible, though that’s mostly thanks to the loud “click” the machine makes when it starts heating up. But because it turns on as soon as you hit the button, my brain interprets the click of the electronics as the click of the button (kind of like how newer AirPods play a sound whenever you squeeze the stem).
Given how good the button is, it may come as a surprise that this is not an expensive coffee maker we’re talking about. My Mr. Coffee, the five-cup model, is one of the brand’s least expensive offerings. (Note: a Mr. Coffee “cup” is not the same as the American volumetric standard of measurement — it means five ounces, meaning my machine can brew about two mugs’ worth of coffee). My Best Buy order history tells me I bought it for around $25 last year, shortly after I had started at The Verge and realized my mornings were becoming too hectic to carry out my Chemex ritual. Somehow, this coffee pot has gotten $4 cheaper since then.
While there are other coffee machines that have buttons that appear to be identical, a funny thing starts to happen when you move up to more expensive models: you run the risk of the buttons actually getting worse. I’ve seen coffee makers where the brew button is small and part of a crowded panel. Some, horrifyingly, even have touch-sensitive buttons.
I won’t judge anyone for choosing a fancier model to grace their countertop, but it’s not for me. I like that I can operate the machine responsible for getting me caffeine while I’m at 2 percent brain capacity. May the “brew now” button live up to several more years of sleepy jabs — just like the snooze button that I may or may not hit a few times before clawing my way to Mr. Coffee.