Hens & Kelly, AM&A’s in the midst of the battle of how to brew your coffee

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

If you eschew the k-cup– you are a soldier in the generations-long war over how coffee should be brewed in your home.

In 2014, Keurig sold 9 billion k-cups. That’s enough little white pods to circle the Earth more than 10 times.

While millions of Americans have given in to the convenience of the Keurig coffee maker, millions of others steadfastly refuse to entertain the notion of having the device in their homes.

Notwithstanding any recent political strife, “The coffee doesn’t taste as good” and “the little cups are just too expensive” are among the common arguments against the Keurig. These folks, it’s understood, are happy with the good ol’ automatic drip machine they’ve had for generations.

Even with Joe DiMaggio selling Mr. Coffee coffee makers, the modern devices were just too much for many old line perc brewers. (Buffalo Stories archives)
The debate raged between stovetop and electric percolators, like this Corningware model– “a perfect gift for young moderns,” in a Hens & Kelly ad, 1963. (Buffalo Stories archives)

It’s a same-as-it-ever-was argument that seems to happen once a generation lately.

It was only 40 years ago when old line caffeine addicts were fighting the original home automatic machine, Mr. Coffee.

“Coffee tastes better in a percolator,” you’d hear people say, who’d also complain about the cost of the machine, as well as the extras, like filters.

But even among the fans of percolated coffee, there were those who couldn’t imagine the extravagance of an electric percolator in their kitchen. Their stove top model worked just fine, thank you.

This 1975 AM&A’s ad says “a good cup of coffee begins with Mr. Coffee.” Not everyone was buying that idea. (Buffalo Stories archives)

These days, a good Keurig machine can be had for about $100. In this 1975 AM&A’s ad, the Mr. Coffee brewer is on sale for $29.99. The regular price of $39.99 is about $177 in 2017 dollars, according to a federal government inflation calculator.

Over the last 40 years, what was luxurious has become common place.

 

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and is the News Director at WECK Radio. A 25 year Buffalo media veteran, Steve's contributed more than 1400 Buffalo History stories to The Buffalo News, worked at WIVB-TV, Empire Sports Network, and spent ten years as a newsman and News Director at WBEN Radio. He's also put his communication skills to work as an adjunct professor, a producer of PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.