So you’ve moved out of your spacious home into a small inner-city apartment? Or maybe you’re cramped into a tiny dorm room? That’s no reason to have to give up on the world’s favorite morning beverage.
4-cup coffee makers are a great way to bring your favorite java into a small space for a low cost. Like it says on the box, 4-cup coffee makers make a limited amount of coffee at a time using the same drip-brew method that you’re likely accustomed to.
Alternatively, if you find yourself filling a 12-cup carafe every morning only to pour half of it away when it gets stale, maybe look at downsizing to something more economical?
We’ve tested out a range of these little machines to help you find the best 4 cup coffee maker.
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Check out our roundup list to find the brewer that best fits your needs. If you’re still unsure about whether or not such a device suits you, why not take a glance at our FAQ section at the end.
Our Review of the Best 4 Cup Coffee Makers
1. Cuisinart DCC 450BK 4 Cup Coffee Maker
Cuisinart is known for making high-quality coffee machines of all shapes and sizes. The DCC 450BK 4 Cup is one of their newer models and it comes with a lot of the features that you would expect to find on their bigger coffee machines.
It’s a neat little device that could fit quite easily on most countertops without having to sacrifice too much space. It’s available in both black and red so you can color code it according to your personal taste.
It’s a bit pricier than some other 4-cup brewers, but it has a slew of features that make it worth the extra price. There is a useful brew-pause feature, which lets you temporarily halt the brewing procedure if you want to steal a quick cup before the brewing process has fully run through.
The carafe has a clever knuckle-guard if you’re worried about burning yourself on the hot metal. It’s also been built with an ingenious no-spill spout, so there’s no risk of dropping hot coffee all over your countertop any time you pour it out.
The carafe is finished with brushed steel, which looks great. It acts as a type of thermos, which keeps warm air circulating inside the carafe. This keeps your coffee warm for longer without risking burning your drink.
Why We Like It: It’s comfortably priced for all the features on offer. It’s a great place to start if you want to get some fresh coffee in the morning.
2. Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Coffee Maker
The Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Coffee maker comes in at around the same price as the Cuisinart, but there are a few key differences between the two that may inform your choice.
Mr. Coffee uses a glass carafe, unlike the brushed steel used in the Cuisinart. Many coffee experts will tell you that steel is the way to go. It keeps your coffee warm for longer without risking the brew going bitter.
However, if you aren’t the kind of person who’s planning on brewing a pot to last you the whole day, this shouldn’t be a problem.
The 4-cup glass carafe is shorter than any other I’ve seen. It’s shorter and squatter than the usual coffee carafes. This makes the Mr. Coffee Maker, nice and compact. It takes up barely any space in your kitchen.
Additionally, there is cord storage at the back of the device so you don’t have to worry about untidy cables lying all over your kitchen.
The machine brews coffee at a near lightning-speed. The first time we used it. the machine managed to pour four cups of coffee in under five minutes. While it sounds good, there are some downsides.
We found that to get the desired strength out of the brew, We had to add more coffee grounds than usual. Otherwise, it came out tasting weak and watery.
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Why We Like It: The Mr. Coffee 4 cup maker is a bit of a mixed bag. It looks nice, and it’s reasonably priced but there are some design flaws that make it fall short of the Cuisinart DCC-450.
3. Capresso 4-Cup Espresso Maker
If you fancy yourself a more adventurous coffee drinker, the Capresso Espresso Maker may be ideal for you. The Capresso brings you all the functionality of a full-blown espresso machine at a fraction of the cost. And it fits neatly into any cupboard or countertop.
Although it’s quite a bit cheaper than other espresso machines, this device is a tad more expensive than the other 4-cup brewers on this list. But with that price tag comes an array of features and fixtures that aren’t available anywhere else.
The glass carafe can fit four, 3oz espressos. It comes with a portafilter that can be adjusted to make anywhere between one and four espressos. Simply fill it with the desired amount of grounds and slot it into the group head.
The Capresso machine takes a bit more work to operate than other devices. Because it is steam-operated, the machine builds up pressure during the brewing process that needs to be released safely once finished.
Next to the group head is a steaming wand. The wand is fixed in place which makes foaming milk tricky, but not impossible. With a little practice, we were able to get perfectly airy and incorporated foam for latte or cappuccino.
The wand is where the excess pressure is released after the brewing process. Since it is pointing directly downwards, this may cause a problem if you have wooden countertops since you won’t want moisture gathering everywhere.
Why We Like It: If you don’t want to drink long-blacks every day this is the machine for you. Being able to combine strong espresso with foamed milk gives you unlimited variety.
4. Zojirushi EC DAC50 Zutto 4-Cup Drip Maker
Zojirushi is known for making precision water-boilers and rice-cookers, but they make some seriously good coffee makers to boot.
It’s a premium quality device, and the price tag reflects that. It goes for up to twice as much as some of the other machines on this list. So if you’re being restricted by your budget, you may want to give this one a skip.
The filter cone itself fits inside the carafe. This is unusual since most four-cup brewers have the unit housed inside the actual machine. While this does keep the machine relatively compact, it can make pouring out of the carafe a little tricky.
The water is all run through a charcoal filter, so you can be sure that you are getting high-quality, clean water in your cup. The removable filter basket screws off easily so it can be rinsed out.
There is a steam vent on top of the unit, so be sure to keep it clear from any wooden cupboards or cabinets.
The water reservoir comes out of the housing so you can fill it directly at the tap without worrying that you’ll pour water into the inside of the machine. If you do happen to spill some water, a small drainage hole at the back will let out any excess.
Why We Like It: The Zutto is focused on brewing the best pot of coffee possible. Simply measure your grounds out and flip a switch to get great-tasting, strong coffee.
5. Bonavita BV1500TS
The Bonavita 1500 TS is a miniaturized version of the larger 1900 TS model. It comes with many of the features of its older cousin at a fraction of the price.
Although it’s cheaper than other Bonavita models, it’s a fair bit more pricey than other 4-cup makers. It’s also quite a bit larger than some of the other models. So if you’re really strapped for cash or space, this might not work for you.
If your wallet allows it, then this is a great coffee maker.
The machine is made mostly of stainless steel, which makes it one of the more durable options on the market. The carafe is a thermal design made of brushed steel. This keeps your coffee hot without making it turn bitter.
Like its predecessor, it uses a showerhead water system. This pours the water more evenly over the surface of your coffee grounds, extracting more flavor and resulting in a deeper tasting cup.
It also has Bonavita’s pre-infusion setting. This saturates the coffee before the brewing process begins. The pre-infusion allows your coffee grounds to ‘bloom,’ resulting in a smooth and rich beverage.
Additionally, the carafe lid, showerhead, and removable filter basket are all top-rack dishwasher safe. If you don’t have the time or energy to fuss over washing your machine by hand, just throw them in the dishwasher and let technology do the work for you.
Why We Like It: It’s a good-looking, durable machine that’s focussed on making you good coffee. The stainless steel design looks great in any kitchen.
6. Black & Decker DCM600B
The Black and Decker 5-cup coffee maker is an inexpensive option that makes great coffee. It’s fantastically small and compact, with room in the machine for cable storage to keep your counters neat and tidy.
It comes with a sturdy glass carafe that is entirely dishwasher safe, making it easy to clean.
Although it brews coffee a bit slower than some of the other models here – it took a little over six minutes to finish four cups – it gets more flavor out as a result. Because the hot water spends more time in contact with the coffee grounds, you get a deeper, more satisfying extraction.
It’s also been designed with simplicity in mind. Simply flip open the cover to top up the water and fill the filter basket, flip a switch and you’re good to go.
There are no fancy buzzers or alarms to let you know that it’s done brewing, so you’ll have to pay it some attention as it goes.
The device itself is made of plastic and it pays the price as a result. The parts don’t seem to clip into place firmly and things often rattle around when it’s in operation. Quite a few users have reported durability problems, but this doesn’t seem to be a universal issue.
Why We Like It: It’s neat and fits into pretty much any space. It’s easy to use and makes a good cup of joe.
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7. Amazon Basics 5-Cup Coffee Maker
The online retail giant Amazon has also thrown its hat into the ring of convenient coffee makers. Like the other items on this list, the Amazon Basics 5-Cup Coffee Maker is compact enough to fit pretty much anywhere in your kitchen, no matter how much room you have to work with.
It’s also one of the cheapest options available, which makes it a great choice for any coffee-addicted college student on a tight budget.
The machine is made out of plastic, which can be unappealing to some, but it’s all BPA-free. The glass carafe is sturdy and holds an impressive 25 ounces of coffee.
It comes with a reusable filter basket, which is great for anyone concerned with throwing away disposable paper ones. For us, eco-friendly design is always a plus.
It’s super easy to use. Simply top up the water using the level on the side of the machine, spoon in your coffee grounds, and switch it on. You’ll have your coffee in less than five minutes.
The coffee it produces is decent, but not great. Despite the fact that it brews so quickly, I found that the coffee was often a little bitter or over-extracted.
There are also a few hair-raising reports of the parts failing after only a couple of uses. Although I never ran into any of these problems myself, it’s certainly something to keep an eye out for.
Why We Like It: If you’re really strapped for cash but not willing to give up your morning brew, this might be just right for you.
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Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve compiled a list of questions that many first-time buyers may find useful. If you’re not sure about how to operate your machine, or what features you may need, why not check it out?
There’s sure to be something useful in here for everyone, even if you consider yourself a seasoned coffee veteran.
What is the ideal brewing temperature?
If you’re looking at buying a 4-cup coffee maker – or any other coffee maker for that matter – you want to ensure that the machine is set to get the best out of your coffee.
Simply put, the ideal temperature to brew coffee is between 195f and 205f. If the water gets too hot, your coffee ground will burn and you will get a bitter cup as a result. If the temperature is too low, the grounds won’t extract properly resulting in a weak, watery cup.
What is the ideal grind size for coffee grounds?
This depends very much on how you intend to use your coffee grounds. For most drip-brew units, you want to use a medium grind. This increases the surface area of each grain of coffee, increasing the depth of flavor.
However, if your grind is too fine, you may find dregs of coffee floating around in the bottom of your cup which can make your drink turn bitter.
If the grind is too coarse, water will filter through too quickly. This means that the grounds are not exposed to the water for long enough to extract the flavor properly.
However, if you choose to go with the Capresso or any other espresso maker, you’ll need finer grinds.
Unlike the drip-brew method, espresso makers push the water through the portafilter under pressure. You need to make sure to use a finer grind to trap the water in the group head for longer to maximize extraction.
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Do I need a steaming wand?
This depends very much on what you enjoy drinking. If you take your coffee black, you won’t get much use out of it.
But if you fancy yourself as a budding barista or enjoy playing around with latte art then a steaming wand is a great addition to your coffee-making arsenal.
A good steaming wand needs to be adjustable so that you can get the best angle to incorporate air into your milk. Properly foamed milk is the key to rich, creamy cappuccinos or lattes.
What are the main benefits of a 4-cup coffee maker?
The main reason to buy one of these nifty little devices is that they’re more compact and often cheaper than their alternatives. Many of these machines are available online for under 50 bucks.
They make for great gifts for anyone you know moving into a small apartment or heading off into dormitory living.
It’s also useful for anyone who finds themselves brewing massive amounts of coffee that go stale before it gets drunk. Rather than wasting all that extra counter space, why not downsize and get something a bit smaller?
Now that we’ve had enough caffeine to wake the dead, it’s time to choose which is the best 4 cup coffee maker.
For our money, it has to be the Zojirushi Zutto. It’s got a sleek design that’s very appealing. It also makes some delicious coffee, and it’s easy to use.
If you’re not willing to spend quite as much as the Zutto would cost, the Cuisinart DCC-450 offers a similar punch for a fraction of the cost. The thermal carafe is great at keeping your coffee hot and fresh.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, why not have a look at the Capresso Espresso Machine? You can get café quality coffee at home, and even teach yourself a bit of latte art in the process.