Vincent Marotta Sr., a driving force behind the introduction and rise of the Mr. Coffee automatic drip coffeemaker, died Saturday. He was 91.
Marotta and business partner Sam Glazer introduced Mr. Coffee in 1972 as one of the first home automatic drip coffeemakers. Glazer died in 2012.
Marotta, a former standout baseball player who also briefly played pro football with the Cleveland Browns, stoked Mr. Coffee’s rapid growth in the 1970s by recruiting Hall of Fame baseball player Joe DiMaggio as the brand’s spokesman and star of a decade-long TV advertising campaign.
After his short stint in pro football, Marotta joined longtime friend Glazer to develop homes and shopping malls. When a credit crunch stalled his real estate business, Marotta used his dissatisfaction with coffee percolators as motivation to develop a restaurant-style drip coffee brewer for homes that would become the Mr. Coffee coffeemaker, designed by a pair of former Westinghouse engineers.
Marotta remained chairman and CEO of Mr. Coffee parent North America Systems until 1987, when it was sold to a securities firm in a leveraged buyout. Mr. Coffee is now owned by Jarden.