KEVIN GRINDE: Rhythm Of The Trail — I Had Fun Reading A Bunn Coffee Maker Instruction Booklet

We’ve all been there. You’ve bought something — an appliance, tool, toy, DIY furniture, whatever — and the time arrives to use the thing.

But first, decision-making time arrives.

You see, humans divide themselves into those who read instructions before use, and those who don’t.

Many, many men (mostly) I know believe they are born with that special intuitive skill — you know, the one that allows them to assemble, build or connect the damn thing and watch it work.

I’m not one of them. That’s because I possess an instructions fetish and enjoy reading them. I think that’s because instructions provide a much-needed diversion or distraction from consuming way too much information from way too many websites that may or may not contain Fake News.

After reading volumes of instructions over the years, I know that most are written by technical writers who’ve never used the gadget they’re writing about. I also know the chances are pretty good that the poor person tasked with writing them lives in a country where English is the fifth language. Whatever the reason, reading instructions can be an adventure.

The guide that came with the Bunn coffee maker we bought was stunning in its simplicity and clarity. And get this — whoever wrote it had a heck of a sense of humor. I laughed at least a half-dozen times reading the step-by-step guide. (These days, laughs seem to be a precious and seemingly rare commodity. Again, I blame it on the news.) As I read the booklet, each page drove my anticipation of using the device a bit more. That, I swear, has only happened to me one other time, when I bought my first audio/video receiver.

For the record, the Mr. Coffee machine we bought four years ago and blew up a few weeks ago clearly was a victim of engineering incompetence. But when it worked, the machine looked cool, especially at night because its clock cast a cool blue glow throughout the kitchen. The Mr. Coffee maker (what a stupid name for an appliance brand) also made OK coffee. Imagine that. Problem is, it met my definition as a piece of crap precisely because it lasted only four years. For $50, I figured the thing would last at least a decade, like its predecessor did.

The new Bunn is made in Iowa, and Bunn promotes that in its package literature. I’ve got nothing against Iowa, but I still found it strange that Iowa was the machine’s birthplace. Who knew? (I always thought Iowa made only hogs and Republicans — including the biggest GOP freak in Congress right now. His name is Steve King. For more about this asshole, check out your own news source.)

About that instruction booklet
The “Welcome” booklet’s cover grabs your eyeballs and doesn’t let go. That’s because it’s printed on blaze orange paper. I like blaze orange a few weeks out of the year. I turned the page and soon found myself immersed in the directions like a container of crushed, aromatic beans in Bunn land.

Page 3 greets the reader/user with “Why Bunn?” in large, black type. The paragraph that follows explains: “Since 1957 restaurants have been using Bunns to make ‘the best coffee experience possible by building the best coffee makers possible.’” The graph goes on to explain that Bunn is a proud company that’s based on honesty and passion and other haughty claims. Maybe they’re even true. Time will tell.

The paragraph ends by saying, “Great coffee is just moments away.” I’m not sure how Iowegians define “moments,” but I needed 20 minutes to read the booklet.

Page 4 is an actual table of contents. Remember them? They were common back when people read books and didn’t tweet. The Bunn table tells the user that “Let’s Get Started” begins on Page 6, for example; “Meet the Brewer” is on 7; “Let’s Be Safe” can be found on Page 10. The one that raised my left eyebrow when I read it was the last line: “Legal Mumbo Jumbo.” Hmmmmm, I thought, so far these instructions definitely beat reading the news.

The Big Black Page 5 yells out in 3-inch letters, “Let’s Get Started.” And in type 90 percent smaller: “PLEASE FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS TO A TEE.” I liked that line because it suggested Bunn knows that far too many people — even the ones who buy their stuff — are dumb asses and need extra encouragement not to goof up. (For proof dumb asses rule the Earth, have you driven anywhere yet today? And then, of course, there’s tomorrow.)

The next few pages contain a parts diagram, which is even accurate. In fact, all of the illustrations in the book are accurate because they look like the actual machine. This is a first for instruction booklets and should qualify Bunn as a Pulitzer Prize contender for Community Service.

After turning the page, one can’t miss the warning on Page 8 in all caps: “Do not plug in until Step 4, or you risk permanently damaging the machine. AND WE DON’T WANT THAT ANY MORE THAN YOU DO.” (I love that line. Honesty. It’s another precious commodity these days. For proof, as of a month ago, Wells Fargo was our former bank.)

Page 9 marries illustrations with the step-by-step printed instructions that explain how to prep the machine. Step 5, the last one, reads: “TURN ON BREWER. Press Tank Switch on side to ON position. Wait 15 minutes for water to heat (you only do this once for life of brewer, so don’t fret). Keep Tank Switch on (unless you’re taking that much-needed vacation). Then be sensible and shut it off.” (I found that funny. Maybe because I’m a fan of using parentheses wisely. That the words within the Bunn parenthesis are funny to me is a bonus. I actually read them aloud to Sara when she asked what I was laughing at. She laughed, too.

“LET”S BE SAFE” launches the list of dos and dont’s most product instructions contain. Page 11 begins with, “IMPORTANT. NO, REALLY, THIS IS IMPORTANT.” I laughed again.

Finally, we get to the most important part of the instruction booklet: “Let’s brew 101.” Here Bunn explains the Bunn Difference, which contains more claims about how the machine makes great coffee. There’s a ditty for Time, Temperature and Turbulence. That’s right: turbulence. Bunn anticipated my consternation … “Created in the Brew Funnel as water uniformity showers over coffee, resulting in smooth flavor.” Hmmmm. I never thought of water as having uniformity. “Let’s Brew 101” ends with another sentence in parenthesis: “(We coffee geeks call this uniformity of extraction.)”

The last 10 pages tell how to clean the machine and how to troubleshoot if something’s amiss. I found more humor there, too.

The Basic Cleaning section ends: “If you’re a neat freak, do it more than occasionally.” The last page is reverse white type on a black background that simply says, “ENJOY.”

And I did. The machine performed exactly how, according to the instructions, it should. The thing made the best cup of coffee I’ve had in months.

So, here’s a tip of my coffee mug to Bunn for manufacturing what seems to be a bulletproof coffee maker. In four years, we shall see if what Bunn says in its instructions proves true.

I wish all gadgets, toys and tools were accompanied by instructions half as funny as Bunn’s. Reading them made my day and beat the hell out of reading the news, fake or not. Better yet, it made a perfect cup of coffee, when the temperature outside was 12 below.

Bravo (for now), Bunn!

One thought on “KEVIN GRINDE: Rhythm Of The Trail — I Had Fun Reading A Bunn Coffee Maker Instruction Booklet”

  • Helen Murphy January 19, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Great article. I am not a big coffe drinker but enjoy a good cup and have heard Bunn is a winner. Did not know it also provided entertainment. I am tempted to go buy my own Bunn but since I live next door, I might just have to make some cookies and bring them and my mug over one day for a sample.


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