As designers, we really value a good cup of Joe, so it seems pretty fitting that our first meeting with Mr. Coffee took place over a casual cup of coffee. They approached us with an idea for a new kind of coffee machine: one that brews faster — and hotter — coffee.
Innovating Something Great Together
Knowing all too well that drinking a lackluster cup of coffee isn’t a positive user experience, we began to narrow down our project scope. As we put our heads together, we found that our close cooperation with the Mr. Coffee team was going to be the key to getting our hotter-faster mission off the ground.
Paul Hatch, president of TEAMS USA, led the development of the project. “We needed Mr. Coffee’s intimate market knowledge about the coffee-machine industry to aid us in diving into the next stage of development,” said Hatch, “At the same time, Mr. Coffee looked for our expertise in pursuing an empathetic design process heavily focused on the user.”
And that was really the end goal: to give users an even better-tasting cup of coffee, one that would create an emotional connection with the machine and the brand that make it for them. We put our senses to work in exploring all things coffee. We tasted, tested, smelled, and savored our way through several workshops and brainstorms.
"Mr. Coffee looked for our expertise in pursuing an empathetic design process focused heavily on the user."
Rewiring the Technology
We started by deconstructing a variety of coffee makers in order to take a closer look at how we could build a better machine, both in terms of functionality and design.
As it turns out, almost all coffee makers route the water from the bottom heating plate and then back to the beans using high temperatures to keep the water hot on its long journey. The hot water tends to scorch the beans, producing less-than-great-tasting coffee.
Hatch describes the team’s big moment: “The breakthrough came when we decided to omit the troublesome heating plate entirely and instead heat the water to the ideal temperature in a small boiling chamber right next to the beans.”
Our team of designers was able to form our own functioning prototypes based on this idea to conduct extensive testing. The rigorous testing proved that our new internal setup not only made the operation faster, but made hotter, better-tasting coffee as well.
Raising the Bar
The Optimal Brew launched at a $99 price point, daringly breaking the traditional $40 ceiling. But the efforts paid off and it quickly became the best-selling coffee maker on the market.
“The high price point was not the goal, but because we were able to deliver a performance better than any competitor, the high price point suddenly became possible,” said Hatch.
By building trust and really understanding Mr. Coffee’s mission, we became the biggest advocates for the Optimal Brew launch and Mr. Coffee’s success. From there, we’ve gone on to develop high-capacity machines, single-serve machines as well as machines that make a traditional cup of Joe.
We are proud to say that our relationship with Mr. Coffee sets the bar for great collaboration — the same high-quality stuff that puts a smile on your face as you breathe in your first cup of morning coffee.