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If you’re looking into buying the best 4-cup coffee maker, there’s a good chance that you’re either an avid coffee drinker or live with multiple coffee drinkers. Either way, the last thing you want is to reach for the coffee pot and find it empty! So, you’ll want to think about the reservoir capacity. You’ll want a coffee maker that can store enough water between uses that you’re not constantly refilling it.
Also, consider whether you’re only interested in using loose ground coffee or if you want a machine that can support multiple functions such as pod brewing or making other beverages such as lattes, cappuccinos, or even espresso. Similarly, consider whether you want a coffee maker that can also froth milk or has a self-cleaning feature. And finally, do you want a permanent filter, or do you prefer using disposable ones?
Keep reading our guide for the best four-cup coffee makers to learn more. Not sure which option is best for you? Start your search by checking out our best coffee maker guide.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll never have to guess if your coffee maker is on again since this model features an indicator light letting you know. There is also a drip-free pour spout that keeps any potential messes at bay.
You’ll love the small footprint that this Cuisinart coffee maker model has in your kitchen. You can easily store it right on the counter, or you can tuck it away. The compact size makes it easily storable. There is also a “Brew Pause” feature so you can stop the brewing cycle mid-way, pour yourself a cup, and then start it back up. However, keep in mind that the lid has a habit of flipping open when you pour your coffee. This can lead to messes if you aren’t careful.
The drip-free pour spout will allow you to avoid making a mess when you pour your cup. The knuckle guard included in the handle design protects against getting burned. This handle is also highly ergonomic and features a comfortable grip for easier handling. You’ll always know when it’s currently on because of the indicator light that it features. This brewing system also has a 30-minute automatic shut-off timer, so you don’t have to worry when you leave the house.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The removable filter basket means that you don’t have to worry about trying to scoop out grounds directly from the machine messily. It also features a “Grab-A-Cup” auto-pause system so you can enjoy your coffee early.
An on/off indicator will tell you when this system is currently on or not. This handy feature tells you what you need to know at a glance. It also features a pausing system called the “Grab-A-Cup” Auto Pause. This allows you to pause the brew to pour a cup of coffee early. Some reports show that the carafe must be exactly centered underneath the filter basket. If it isn’t, water will fill the filter basket until it overflows, getting coffee grounds all over the counter.
However, you won’t have to worry about your coffee maker overflowing due to you overfilling it. This model features a convenient window to see how much water is in the machine on either side of the body. This lets you figure out how much water the system needs to refill. There is also a removable filter basket. This allows you to pop out the filter quickly and wash it in your sink. You don’t have to struggle with cleaning it while it’s still inside the coffee brewer.
Award: BEST FOR QUICK BREW TIMES
WHY WE LIKE IT: A convenient anti-drip valve allows you to pour your cup with confidence. You’ll enjoy the high-power nature of this model since it’s driven by a motor with 600 watts of power. It takes less than 5 minutes to brew.
This speedy option is excellent for anybody who needs their brew as quickly as possible. You’ll be able to enjoy a rich, indulgent cup of coffee within five minutes when using this model to brew. It’s also straightforward to use and doesn’t feature any complicated systems, such as clocks or timers. Unfortunately, this model brews at a lesser volume than some competing models. The cups are reported to actually be around 3 ounces of coffee instead of the usual 6 ounces.
Having a convenient anti-drip valve is a massive pro for this brewing system. This alleviates any concern about making a mess while pouring your cup. It’s powered by a motor with 600 watts of power. This is why it’s able to brew so quickly and craft such decadent cups of coffee. The translucent water tank has a 0.6-liter capacity. This is more than enough to get four 5-ounce cups.
Award: BEST FOR ONE-TOUCH BREWING
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you require a compact option, this is a great model for tight spaces. It also features a one-touch brewing system, so you don’t have to learn a fancy system. You’ll also enjoy the swing-out brew basket.
You’ll love the simple operation that this coffee maker provides to your household. It has One-Touch brewing, which means all you have to do is touch a button, and you’ll be sipping your morning cup in no time. This makes it highly convenient for those who don’t have time for fancy systems with complicated features. However, the carafe lid does have a habit of not staying open. This can cause problems when you’re trying to clean it out.
The swing-out design for the brew basket makes it far more accessible to you for loading up coffee grounds or cleaning after your brew has finished. This is also a compact system that you can keep almost anywhere. You’ll have an easy time finding the space for it on your counter. The unique hot plate design will keep your coffee fresh and hot for upwards of 2 hours. It will automatically shut off, so you don’t have to worry about a boil-dry ruining your coffee pot.
Award: BEST FOR RETRO AESTHETICS
WHY WE LIKE IT: The reusable filter this model uses ensures you won’t have to spend money ordering new filters. While this model has plastic in its design, it doesn’t use any BPA. This means it’s a non-toxic option.
There’s not much you won’t like about this model, especially with the tempered glass carafe. This ensures that you won’t have to worry about cracking or shattering like you would with a competing model that uses different materials. It’s a high-quality, durable material that will stand the test of time. Unfortunately, this coffee brewing system only comes in one color. This may be a dealbreaker for some consumers since it might clash with your kitchen.
This model also features a reusable filter, so you can skip purchasing disposable filters. You’ll also receive a coffee scoop that you can use to measure how much ground coffee you need to put in the filter basket. The water level window allows you to see into the tank and determine whether more water is necessary. You’ll also love that the warming plate keeps your coffee nice and hot. This model isn’t made with BPA, either.
Award: BEST FOR MOKA POT BREWING
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll love how classy and stylish this model looks in your kitchen. It’s made of glossy aluminum, so it’s easy to clean and looks fantastic. The handle and knob are both made of nylon for easier handling.
You’ll love the unique features that come with this model, like the fact that it uses induction-style brewing. If you need something more substantial to fill your cup, this option will be perfect for you. Unlike other options, this is a “Moka Pot” style that will brew espresso-like coffee in mere minutes. Unfortunately, it will not appeal to those who do not like deep, robust coffee. If you’re not a fan of espresso, you’ll want to steer clear of this option.
The glossy aluminum it’s made out of looks gorgeous on any counter space, although this model is small enough to be tucked into a cabinet with ease. Its shape disperses heat in a perfectly consistent manner, allowing the brewing system to pull out deliciously deep flavor notes. This is a distinctive eight-sided shape that is unique to this brewing style. It only takes a few minutes for this coffee maker to finish brewing.
Four-cup coffee makers are coffee machines that brew four 5-ounce cups of coffee at one time. The most basic versions are designed to simply brew a single pot of coffee which is usually kept warm. They’re self-contained units with a water reservoir, a removable lid for adding coffee grounds to the filter, and a built-in slot for the carafe or pot, which fits perfectly under the brewing apparatus. You can also use them with the best whole bean coffee.
As with other coffee makers, you can find four-cup coffee makers in a variety of configurations. Simple models may only offer limited functionality, such as an on/off switch. In other cases, you can find coffee makers that are programmable with automated timers. And sometimes, you can find more complex coffee makers that offer multi-cup brewing and contain additional features to make specialized coffee such as espresso, cappuccino, lattes, and other hot beverages like hot chocolate and tea. To see more pros and cons between a couple of machines, check out our mashup of the coffee urn vs a coffee maker.
The most significant difference between four-cup coffee makers and other coffee makers is the maximum number of cups you can brew in one session. With a four-cup coffee maker, you’re limited to a maximum output of four cups of coffee per brewing session. In contrast, you can find other coffee makers that are single-cup brewers, go up a size to the best 5-cup drip coffeemaker, and even some that can brew upwards of 10 or more cups of coffee.
Aside from brewing capacity, four-cup coffee makers are generally no different than any other drip coffee brewer. As with other types of drip brewers, many four-cup coffee makers are budget-friendly with minimal functionality, while other models offer enhanced programmability, a function to keep coffee warm, and additional features or accessories.
Typically, multi-cup coffee makers are known as drip coffee makers, meaning that you pour coffee grounds into a filter (either disposable paper filters or a permanent, removable filter basket) while water is stored in an attached or removable water reservoir. After starting the brewing process, water is funneled over the filter and coffee grounds, where coffee then drips into a waiting container — the glass carafe or coffee pot — on the hot plate.
Four-cup coffee makers operate in the same format, with the main difference being that the maximum amount of coffee that you can brew in one session is four 5-ounce cups. Because of this, the filter compartment and the water reservoir are designed to accommodate the maximum amount of space needed to brew a full pot of coffee in one sitting.
Similar to other coffee makers, you’ll find that four-cup coffee makers also come standard with an on/off button. In some cases, you can find a programmable coffee maker, which is nice if you don’t want to stand around waiting for fresh coffee to brew in the morning as you get ready for work. Additionally, many coffee makers feature an automatic shut-off option, which is important as a safety feature and for conserving energy.
Plus, some coffee makers have water indicators, letting you know when it’s time to refill the reservoir tank. In most cases, a four-cup coffee maker is a smaller, more compact brewer, which is ideal for kitchens with small footprints or for anyone that dislikes having appliances overtake their counter space.
If you can’t start your day without a cup of joe, then owning a coffee maker is a smart investment. And for someone who loves to indulge in a cup of coffee throughout the day, knowing you can quickly brew a new cup in no time at all is an appealing concept.
Your total mileage on a coffee maker can vary depending on the quality of the appliance you selected, and of course, user behavior. In general, you should expect that if you buy a good coffee maker, it can last around five years before you need to consider replacing it.
Keep in mind that budget-friendly options might have a shorter lifespan, sometimes only surviving two years before they need to be replaced. Conversely, more expensive or premium coffee makers can sometimes surpass five years, and in a few cases, even last as long as ten years.
To get the minimum benchmark of two to five years, you need to care for your coffee maker. In most cases, this means routinely cleaning and descaling it — a common cleaning process to prevent minerals from accumulating as water passes through the filtration system. Over time, if you don’t perform routine maintenance, limescale can develop on your coffee maker’s heating elements and lead to appliance failure.
However, experts agree that you shouldn’t hold on to a coffee maker if the heating element begins to fail. Similarly, if the water reservoir becomes cracked or starts leaking, you should focus on replacing rather than repairing your four-cup coffee maker.
Not all coffee drinkers are alike, which means that you’ll need to consider a wider array of factors when selecting the right four-cup coffee maker. But common concerns center around how frequently you drink coffee throughout the day, how many people will be using the coffee maker, and of course, how easily you can operate your coffee maker. Alternatively, for a machine that doesn’t make too much noise, you’ll want a quiet coffee maker.
These days, you can find coffee makers with permanent filters instead of disposable ones. There are benefits and drawbacks to both. With permanent filters, you’ll save money as you won’t need to buy new filters. Similarly, cleanup can be fairly easy as you simply rinse the filter. Conversely, some people might like the ease of disposable filters as there’s less clean-up since you’re tossing the filter after each use. However, you’ll need to ensure that you’re buying a filter that fits the make and model of your coffee maker.
As we mentioned earlier, you need to regularly clean it to get the most life out of your coffee maker. Consider how easily you can descale the appliance. Look for options that have dishwasher-safe components, as this can make deep cleaning your machine significantly easier.
While not a necessity, a programmable four-cup coffee maker can be a nice value-add for your day. This can mean that, at a minimum, you can set your coffee maker to begin making coffee in the morning and be assured that your cup of joe is ready just as you head into the kitchen on your way to work.
Auto-off and auto-pause aren’t the same things. Auto-off means that once your coffee maker has finished brewing, it automatically powers off, helping to save on energy consumption and serving as a safety fail-safe mechanism.
Auto pause is great for impatient coffee drinkers who don’t want to wait until the coffee maker is finished brewing. If in the middle of a brewing session you want to grab a cup of coffee, you can remove the carafe or coffee pot and the machine automatically senses that the carafe is gone. Because of this, it stops brewing and saves you from cleaning up a messy spill.
At a minimum, your four-cup coffee maker will have a water reservoir or tank that can hold an amount of water equal to brewing four cups of coffee. But, if you or others in your home frequently drink coffee, that still means that you need to refill the reservoir often. This is especially true if you drink larger quantities of coffee per cup than the standard five-ounce coffee cup. Depending on your drinking habits, you might want to look for a model that has a larger capacity that can support fewer refills per day.
Four-cup coffee makers are usually designed to brew four five-ounce cups of coffee. But as we mentioned before, often people drink larger quantities of coffee per cup. So, when picking a coffee maker, think about how much coffee you drink per cup and how many people will be using the appliance. If you’re shopping for yourself, a four-cup coffee maker should be able to make a few cups of coffee for you, even if you drink from larger mugs. But if multiple people are drinking from the same big coffee cups, you might need a higher-capacity coffee maker.
With most budget and median-priced coffee makers, you usually can’t adjust the brewing temperature. In this case, you’ll want to ensure that the preset brewing temperature is designed to create an optimal cup of coffee.
Most coffee experts agree that 205 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for brewing. Anything over this can create a burnt coffee taste, and temperatures lower than 195 degrees Fahrenheit won’t be hot enough to extract the flavor and aroma you would expect in a cup of coffee.
As with any other product, coffee makers come in a wide range of prices. This means you can easily pick a budget-friendly option if you want a simple coffee maker. Meanwhile, if you want a drip coffee maker with all the bells and whistles, you can get that too — for a price.