Small but Mighty – The Best 4 Cup Coffee Makers of 2021 Reviewed

Best 4 cup coffee maker

As coffee culture continues to grow, people demand quality out of each and every cup, and while there are a number of big, fancy coffee makers to choose from out there...but what if you are a small household of one or two?  Maybe you live in a tiny apartment without a lot of counter space or maybe you just want a small pot for the office.  

In any of these cases, a traditional coffee maker just doesn’t fit your needs.  You don’t want to sacrifice quality but need something smaller. You want to find the best 4 cup coffee maker out there.

In this guide, we have taken the work out of it for you.  Read our reviews of the best 4 cup coffee pots we have found and then get shopping.  Oh, and we included a few of the best 5 cup coffee makers as well...just in case you’re feeling frisky!

 

Cuisinart DCC-450BK

 

 

Pros

  • Ultra compact
  • Pause-brewing function
  • Durable stainless steel carafe
  • Great price

 

Cons

  • Filters are not included
  • Ultra small carafe

The Cuisinart Dcc-450Bk is an ultra compact coffee maker that takes up little space and is sleek enough to fit into a modern kitchen yet still feel at home in a more traditional kitchen as well.

It features a solid stainless steel carafe to keep your coffee warm for hours.  Stainless steel offers ultimate durability and this model comes with a knuckle guard to protect your hand from burns.  It also offers a dripless pour spout, a pause-brew function so you can sneak a quick up mid brew, and a 30 minute auto-shutoff.

It uses paper filters for ease of clean up but does not come with a reusable filter if that is a feature you would prefer. Unfortunately, it also does not come with a programmable timer. If you prefer waking up to the smell of coffee, this may not be your machine, but if you are looking for a great budget friendly coffee maker for the office, this is our go-to model. 

Capresso 5 Cup Mini Drip Coffee Maker

 

 

Pros

  • Durable base
  • Some parts dishwasher safe
  • Comes with Goldtone filter
  • Fast brewing
  • Automatic shutoff

 

Cons

  • Thin glass carafe is not as durable as stainless
  • Machine makes bubbling noises when brewing

This tiny five cup coffee maker can really pack a punch. It will brew a full pot of coffee in approximately 5 minutes that will satisfy even the most picky coffee connoisseur.  Don’t worry though, if you can’t wait 5 minutes for your first sip, it has a drip stop feature so you can sneak a quick cup before the pot is finished brewing.

The compact design and 5 cup carafe are ideal for one or two people.  The Capresso 5 cup mini boasts a see-through glass carafe with measurements on the exterior which allow you to easily control the exact amount of water for brewing, and it features an ergonomic handle to aid in pouring the perfect cup. It also comes with a Goldtone filter which is easy to clean and eliminates the need for paper filters.

If you prefer to wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, this model can be programmed to brew at your chosen time and has a hot plate that will keep your coffee warm for 2 hours before automatically shutting off. 

Mr. Coffee 4 Cup Switch Coffee Maker

 

 

Pros

  • Small and Compact
  • Dishwasher safe components
  • Auto-pause brewing feature
  • Comes with reusable filter

 

Cons

  • Not programmable
  • Slow brew time
  • Noisy
  • Build materials are not as durable as some

Mr. Coffee is a recognizable brand that has been around for a long time…and there is a reason for that.  While this compact machine doesn’t have a stainless steel carafe, it certainly isn’t lacking in other features.

If you want a to grab a cup before the coffee had finished brewing, the Mr. Coffee 4 cup switch has an auto-pause feature that allows brewing to be stopped while you pour your first cup.  It brews an incredibly rich tasting coffee with ideal flavor and features dual water windows to prevent annoying overflows.

Ease of cleaning is another great feature this machine offers.  The filter basket is easily removable and it comes with a dishwasher safe gold-tone filter. It also features a stain resistant warming plate that can be cleaned with the simple wipe of a dishcloth.

The only downside to this machine is that it is not programmable and if you tend to be forgetful, it does not have an automatic shutoff.  On the other hand, it will keep your coffee warm until you switch it off!

Bonavita BV1500TS

 

 

Pros

  • Precise brewing temperature
  • Pre-infusion
  • One touch fast brewing
  • Durable stainless steel thermal carafe
  • BPA-free plastic 
  • Dishwasher safe components
  • Stylish and expensive looking design

 

Cons

  • Not programmable
  • A bit pricey
  • We didn’t love the carafe design

Bonavita is a popular brand with the specialty coffee crowd and this coffee maker doesn’t disappoint.  For coffee lovers looking for a high quality, compact machine, this is the best Bonavita coffee maker to fit perfectly in your small kitchen or office.  

This powerful 5 cup coffee maker has pre-infusion and uses a cross shaped showerhead to evenly disperse the water, resulting in a better overall flavor extraction to satisfy your love for barista quality coffee. 

It was designed to brew your coffee at precisely 195 – 205 degrees, meaning all of the essential oils in the coffee beans are fully extracted.  It also comes with a thermal carafe that will keep your coffee warm but will not cause your coffee to evaporate and become bitter in the same way a warming plate can.

The Bonavita also comes with speed.  It takes only 6 minutes to brew a 5 cup pot and the entire process is activated with just one touch of a button.  Since the carafe is thermal, the machine automatically shuts off after brewing is complete saving energy and eliminating the worry of remembering to turn off the coffee maker.

The only imperfection we have found with this machine is that the carafe is a little difficult to pour from without the lid installed so be sure to screw it on after the brew.  It also doesn’t have a huge range of settings but includes all of the essentials.

Zojirushi EC-DAC50 Zutto

 

 

Pros

  • Built in water filter
  • Space saving design
  • Removable water reservoir
  • Glass carafe
  • Easy to clean

 

Cons

  • No auto-shutoff function
  • On the expensive side
  • Handle could be sturdier

One of the higher end coffee makers we looked at was the Zojirushi Zutto 5 cup coffee maker.  This stylish, compact coffee pot produces great tasting coffee that will without a doubt impress your hipster friends.

The brewing temperature is carefully controlled at 195 – 215 degrees, and the water is evenly distributed over the grounds in the cone shaped filter.  It features a durable glass carafe, a removable water tank, and a keep warm function. 

One feature that sets this machine apart from the rest is the charcoal water filter.  The filter is designed to purify the water, pre-brew, to create a great tasting coffee every time. So, if you are a picky coffee drinker that prefers to have their water purified before brewing a cup, the Zojirushi Zutto is certainly worth considering. 

The filter basket is located inside the carafe itself making it easy to fill and a breeze to clean. Another convenient feature is a space saving, removable water reservoir.  This feature saves counter space and means no more spilling water all over the place while trying to fill the reservoir, simply take it over to the sink and turn on the tap.

Unfortunately, for a coffee maker in this price range, the Zojirushi has a limited number of settings,  it doesn’t have a programmable timer or auto-shutoff, and you will need to hold the lid on when you pour to avoid a coffee disaster. 

Braun KF7150BK

 

 

Pros

  • Precise brewing temperature
  • Programmable
  • Strength selector
  • Automatic shutoff

 

Cons

  • Not the fastest machine we’ve seen
  • Lid can shift in pouring so be sure to secure it
  • On the Pricey side

Braun is known for its consistency and reliability and this high-tech brewing unit does not disappoint.  From its ergonomic design and stainless steel features, to its modern functions, this drip coffee maker from Braun looks great on your kitchen counters, is compact enough for the office, and has everything you need to take your morning (or afternoon) coffee routine to the next level.

Its small size allows it to fit virtually anywhere and the machine features programmable settings that allow you to wake up to a fresh pot of coffee.  Once your brew is finished, this coffee maker will keep your coffee warm for up to two hours with its custom controlled warming plate and then automatically shut off. You can even choose a regular or bold pot at the touch of a button, and each feature has its own easy to read button with an LED indicator light, making it easy to see exactly which option you selected.

It also features a charcoal filter basket.  Filtering the water before brewing creates a smooth tasting cup of coffee free of extra minerals found in traditional tap water. In addition to the charcoal filter, this machine features an anti-drip system that allows you to sneak a cup of coffee before the brewing cycle is complete without leaving a mess all over your counter.

Most of the components are dishwasher safe so daily clean up is a breeze and it comes with a clean function to do the descaling for you.

Black and Decker 5 Cup Coffee Maker

 

 

Pros

  • Simple and easy to use
  • Sturdy glass carafe
  • Convenient cord storage
  • Brews quietly
  • Great price

 

Cons

  • Not the fastest we’ve seen
  • Not programmable
  • No automatic shutoff
  • Coffee can sometimes taste a bit weak

If you are looking for a great budget machine that is durable and gets the job done, this 5 cup coffee maker from Black and Decker may be for you.  

This machine boasts a sturdy glass carafe that can hold up to five cups of coffee for those mornings when you need just a little more than your usual four cup pot and features an easy-grip handle for spill free pouring.

Its compact design and convenient cord storage makes this a perfect machine for a small kitchen or office shelf and it comes with a permanent filter basket that is dishwasher safe for easy clean-up.

While this machine isn’t the fastest we’ve seen, it does come with a pause brewing feature that will allow you to sneak a cup while you wait for the rest to brew.

Since this machine comes at a much lower price point than some of the others we have looked at, it is missing features such as programmability, auto-shut off, and custom brewing strength, but if simple is what you are looking for, this machine brews at the touch of a button.

Elite Cuisine EHC-2022

 

 

Pros

  • Slim and compact design
  • Comes with reusable filter
  • Pause brewing feature
  • Dishwasher safe components
  • Very affordable

 

Cons

  • Build quality not great
  • Filter will break down over time
  • No automatic shutoff

The Elite CuisineEHC-2022 is an elegant, compact machine that has all the essential features covered and comes at a very affordable price.  This budget friendly model can hold up to 4 cups of coffee and comes with a semi-transparent glass carafe with a stay-cool handle that makes it easy to control the water level. 

The Elite Cuisine also offers a drip-free pour spout and a warming plate that will keep your coffee hot for up to an hour.  Can’t wait for your first cup?  Don’t worry, it also has a pause brewing feature so you can grab a cup while you wait for the rest to brew.

The swing style filter basket is reusable so you there is no need for paper filters and is easily removed for descaling.  The carafe is also dishwasher friendly making clean-up a breeze.

This machine doesn’t boast most of the bells and whistles some of the other machines we have looked at do and may not last for years, but at such a low price point, this machine is perfect to send your student off to college with or to keep at the office for an occasional cup.

Barsetto Grind and Brew Coffee Maker

 

 

Pros

  • Built in Burr Grinder
  • Automatic shutoff
  • Can use pre-ground coffee

 

Cons

  • Not programmable
  • Its pricey

The general consensus among seasoned coffee drinkers is that fresh ground beans always trump pre-ground bagged coffee.  While you can grind your own coffee beans to use in any of the coffee makers mentioned in this guide, you may not want to take that extra step or maybe you just don’t have the space to store a grinder. 

The Barsetto Grind and Brew is the best of both worlds.  You get a fast and compact brewer that saves on counter space and gives you freshly ground coffee in every cup.

The build in burr grinder grinds the coffee beans right in the machine and has 18 different grind sizes so you can customize the brew strength according to your personal taste.  It also can accommodate pre-ground coffee if you run out of beans.

In addition to the built in grinder, it offers a simple push button interface, automatic shutoff, a removable water tank for easy cleaning and filling, and an insulated bottom plate to keep your coffee warm for about an hour.

Farberware Percolator

 

 

Pros

  • Space saving
  • Great for travel
  • Durable stainless steel

 

Cons

  • Not programmable
  • No automatic shutoff
  • No extra features

If you prefer your coffee to have a more robust espresso like flavor without having to buy an expensive espresso machine, we suggest you check out this Farberware electric percolator.  It can brew up to 8 cups, so technically it is not a 4 cup coffee maker,  but its compact design puts it in the same size range as the other machines we have reviewed.

The stainless steel finish gives it a stylish appearance and with the ability to brew a cup a minute, you can have fresh, robust coffee in no time.  

In addition to the durable stainless steel construction, it also boasts a stainless steel coffee basket, a no drip spout to minimize spillage, a cool touch handle, and lid knob with rolled edges for safe handling.

While this machine doesn’t have many features, it does have an automatic keep warm mode to ensure every cup of coffee is at the perfect drinking temperature.

The Farberware percolator looks great, is very compact, and is a top choice for small apartments, dorms, or RVs.

Why use a small coffee maker in the first place?

If there are only one or two coffee drinkers at home, you may not need a pot with a 10 cup capacity…or maybe you do…we don’t judge.  Whether you are looking for a coffee maker for home, the office, or a college dorm, having a smaller pot has its advantages.  

Small coffee makers are faster.  It doesn’t require nearly as much time to brew only four cups of coffee, so with a smaller model, you will be enjoying coffee in a matter of minutes. 

A second perk is that with a smaller model you save money. Smaller coffee makers are less expensive and use less coffee.  Sure, you can brew a small amount of coffee with a traditional coffee maker, but you will need to use more coffee grounds to get the same quality coffee you will get with a smaller machine.  

Finally, a 4 to 5 cup coffee pot is…well…small.  It doesn’t take up too much counter space, making it perfect for a small kitchen, office, dorm room, or RV.  

How much coffee does a 4 cup coffee maker really make?

A four cup coffee pot makes 4 cups right?  Not so fast, you have to remember that a “standard” cup of coffee is 5 ounces, and most four cup models have 20 oz. carafes. To put it into perspective, the average travel mug is 16 ounces, and a Starbucks Venti comes in at 20 ounces…that’s right, an entire 4 cup carafe of coffee.  You will only get about 2 coffee mugs worth out of even the best 4 cup coffee maker, so if you both coffee drinkers in your household drink more than one cup, you probably should consider a bigger coffee maker. 

Advantages of having a grind and brew coffee maker

The best route to an amazing cup of coffee is to grind your own coffee beans right before you brew them.  A grind and brew coffee maker allows you to enjoy the flavor of freshly ground coffee without spending the extra time manually grinding your beans.  These machines offer coffee customization because they often come with different settings for fine or coarse grinds, giving you total control over your brew. 

Grind and brew coffee makers are perfect for those who are short on space since they eliminate the need for a separate coffee grinder. 

Should I Consider a Percolator Coffee Maker

Percolators are great when you need to make coffee for a lot of people in a relative short period of time (some can brew up to 12 cups).  

A percolator is going to give you a strong, bold coffee, so if that is what you are looking for then a percolator could be the machine for you.  The strong bold flavor is developed by double brewing the beans as the percolator repeatedly pumps already brewed coffee back through the grinds.  

This is great if you are just in it for the caffeine and prefer the flavor of cream and sugar, but unfortunately, the coffee flavor can often be over-extracted, meaning you will lose the depth of the flavor.  A drip coffee maker will allow you to taste more of the subtleties in the brew, and coffee made with a drip coffee maker will have a lighter and smoother mouth feel.

Things to Consider When Purchasing a 4 Cup Coffee Maker

Just like with any other kitchen appliance, coffee pots offer a variety of features you should consider when making a purchase decision.  Consider which features you find valuable when making a decision on which model is the best 4 cup coffee maker for your specific needs. 

Brewing Temperature

The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees fahrenheit.  Anything higher than 205 degrees will result in a burnt taste, and coffee brewed under 195 lack optimal flavor and aroma. 

With these factors in mind, accurate brewing temperature, which many cheaper coffee pots lack, should be at the top of your list.

The Carafe Material

Coffee carafes come in a variety of build materials, including stainless steel, glass, and even heavy duty plastic. 

Glass is typically the classic carafe material and will not add any extra flavors to your brew.  Glass carafes are easy to clean and often dishwasher safe.  The downside to a glass carafe is that it will not keep your coffee warm for long.  They are also more fragile than stainless steel or heavy duty plastic, and easier to break.  Luckily,if you find yourself in this predicament,  most coffee maker brands offer replacement carafes.

Stainless steel is a very durable material that doesn’t run the risk of breaking, and some stainless steel carafes are also thermal carafes, which are ideal for keeping your coffee warm. If you want to enjoy your brew over a few hours, you may want to consider a stainless steel thermal carafe. 

Plastic carafes are less expensive, but their only real benefit is that they are more robust that glass and less likely to break. We suggest you stay away from models with plastic carafes since the plastic can affect the taste of the coffee, and often come with cheaper coffee makers that give you less control over your brew in general. 

Brew Speed

When it comes to four and five cup coffee makers, all of them brew relatively quickly so when it comes to brew speed, think about what you really need. If you intended to have coffee first thing in the morning, brew speed may not be as important but if you are looking for a machine for the office so you can make a quick pot between meetings, time may be limited.  

Lets face it, we live in a fast-paced world where time is money, so if you need your coffee maker to brew as fast as possible, look for a machine with a higher wattage.  The more powerful a machine, the faster it is.  Unfortunately, this translates to more power consumption so a faster machine will not be as energy efficient.

Design

Design is a key factor to consider when purchasing any kitchen appliance.  One of the benefits of having a four to five cup coffee maker is they are nice and compact.  You also want to consider the overall appearance of the machine.  Do you like the way it looks?  You are going to be looking at it every single morning so you want a coffee maker that will fit the style of your kitchen.

If you are considering purchasing a small drip coffee maker and you don’t have a lot of counter space, be sure to check all of the dimensions of the machine before making a final decision.  Make sure you measure the base of the coffee maker as well as the height to be sure it will fit under your kitchen cabinets.  You should also check the location of the water reservoir.  Does it need to be filled from the top or the side?  Water reservoir location could impact where you can put the coffee maker.

Filter Type

Coffee filters generally come in either a basket shape or cone shape and can be made out of paper, metal, or nylon.  It is important to know the size coffee filter your machine uses and whether it is a basket or cone shaped filter.  This information will allow you to get the filter that best fits your machine.  

Paper filters allow for easy cleanup and are compostable so they are a great choice for the office or those busy mornings that you just don’t have time to clean a reusable basket.  

More and more manufactures are now offering washable and reusable mesh filters. While paper filters are compostable, reusable filters are even more environmentally friendly, and they save you time and money in the long run since you don’t have to constantly buy more filters. 

Want the best of both worlds?  No problem…if your machine comes with a reusable filter you can still place a paper filter inside the reusable basket for those days where you need a quick cleanup.  

Settings

When considering a 4 cup coffee maker, look and see what extra settings it comes with. A general rule of thumb is: the more expensive the machine, the more features it offers.  Lets look at a few settings you should consider

  • Programmable timer:  If you prefer coffee as soon as you get out of bed, look for a machine that has a program feature.  Simply set it to brew 5 to 10 minutes before your alarm and you will wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee.
  • Keep Warm Function: No one wants room temperature coffee, so if the machine you are looking at doesn’t have a thermal carafe, then you will want to make sure it has a warming plate.  The keep warm function keeps your coffee…well warm, allowing you to enjoy it throughout the morning.  
  • Brew Pause:  This feature is essential for those mornings where you just can’t wait for the entire pot to brew.  The brew pause function allows you to sneak a cup of coffee mid-brew without coffee pouring over your countertop.
  • Auto Shut-off:  In our opinion, this is a feature every coffee maker should come with.  No one wants to be on their way to work or school and have that moment of panic when they can’t remember whether or not they turned the coffee maker off.  This function will eliminate that fear by automatically turning your coffee maker off after a determined period of non use.  

Durability

If you are shopping for the best 4 cup coffee maker, you will want to consider your specific needs when it comes to durability.  A coffee maker that is going to live on the counter, in a home with responsible adults, will not need to be as durable as a coffee maker that will be living in a dorm room with a college freshman.  

All jokes aside, durability is an important factor when considering any appliance purchase.  Machines made from stainless steel will be more expensive but also more durable than coffee makers that are primarily plastic.  A quality coffee maker will come with a warranty, which can give you some idea of what to expect from their durability.  Also consider the brand’s reputation when it comes time to make a final decision.  Is it the same brand your grandmother used?  If a brand has been around that long, there is a reason.

Ease of Cleaning

Have you ever had a coffee pot that was easy to use but cleaning was a pain?  The dread of cleaning a coffee pot has sent many a busy person to the coffee shop down the street for their morning cup just to avoid the hassle of cleaning.  

If you are looking for convenience in a coffee maker, look for a machine that has components that are dishwasher safe.  Many coffee makers come with dishwasher safe carafes, filter baskets, and even water reservoirs.

When considering your purchase, keep in mind that the more features and components a machine has, the more time it will take you to clean.

How to Clean your Coffee Maker

Every month or so (depending on use), your coffee maker will need a thorough cleaning to remove any Limescale and coffee residue that can build up over time.  You will be amazed at the difference in the taste of your coffee after a thorough cleaning. 

What you will need

  • White Vinegar or lemon juice
  • Dish Soap
  • Rice
  • A soft sponge or dishcloth

How to do the actual cleaning

  1. Always wash the carafe, lid, and filter basket with hot soapy water after every use.  If they are dishwasher safe, just pop them in the dishwasher.
  2. Fill the reservoir with half white vinegar (or lemon juice) and half water.  Allow the solution to sit for 15 minutes, then set the machine to brew, discard the dirty vinegar water, and repeat.
  3. Clean the carafe, lid, and filter basket with hot soapy water and then run clean, filtered, water through two brew cycles to remove any excess vinegar and debris.
  4. Finally, add hot soapy water and rice to your carafe.  Swirl it around to remove any stuck on debris and then wipe the carafe out with a soft sponge or dishcloth.  The rice will leave your carafe sparkling like new.

Tips on making the perfect cup of coffee

Whether you bought your coffee maker so you can make locally roasted small batch coffee or you wanted to save money by brewing at home, making a substandard cup of joe will make you wish you ran to the nearest coffee shop instead.  Following a few simple tips will ensure that your home brew will rival any coffee shop.

  1. Start with fresh filtered water – Fill the reservoir of your coffee maker with fresh filtered water.  Using tap water can alter the taste of your coffee depending on your region and the minerals found in your tap water.  We suggest using filtered water for the best tasting cup. Filtered water will also help reduce the amount of limescale buildup inside the machine.
  2. Determine the right amount of coffee – If you have had trouble with bitter tasting coffee, you may not be using enough ground coffee in your brew.  Coffee that is over extracted can taste bitter so using enough grounds each time you brew is paramount.  We suggest starting with 2 tablespoons of coffee per each 6 ounce cup of coffee, so if you have a 4 cup coffee maker, be sure to use 8 tablespoons for a full pot.
  3. Select a grind size – the size of the coffee grounds also affects the flavor of your coffee since it will determine brew time.  Water passes slower through finer grinds resulting in a longer extraction time.  This produces a stronger cup of coffee.  We suggest following the directions in your users manual to determine grind size.  If you’re still not sure, a good rule of thumb is if you coffee maker is high powered and makes coffee pretty fast, use a larger grind size to prevent overflow.  
  4. Brew just enough – You want to brew only the amount of coffee you can enjoy in an hour. Sitting on a heating plate for more than an hour will result in a burnt tasting coffee.  If you prefer to enjoy your coffee throughout the morning we recommend you either make two smaller pots, or invest in a coffee maker with a thermal carafe.  Since thermal carafes do not require heating plates, they will keep your brew warm without burning it.
  5. Don’t be afraid to experiment – Everyone prefers a slightly different tasting coffee.  Use these instructions as merely a starter guide.  As you get more comfortable with your new coffee maker, feel free to experiment with the amount of grounds per cup and grind size to find the perfect brew for your own palate. 

Conclusion

The coffee machines we have outlined above may be small but can pack a mighty punch when it comes to brewing a great cup of coffee.  Choosing the best 4 cup coffee maker can be a daunting task but with a little research and careful consideration, it doesn’t have to be that difficult.  Hopefully our guide outlining the benefits and limitations of each machine will take some of the guesswork out of it for you and help you find a coffee maker that best suits your home or office, so add one to your cart and get brewing!