If you are in the market for the best 4 cup coffee maker you may find that you can snag yourself a bargain. The two main advantages of a smaller 4 cup option lie in the fact that you can often get a lot more machine for your money and that you can really save on counter space where it is at a premium.
For us, the best route to excellent quality batch brewed coffee in a small home brewer would have to be the Bonavita 5-cup. It is an amazing machine for the price, producing very evenly extracted coffee. The only area where it may fall down for some users is in its smaller capacity, but if you’re shopping for a 4 cup that is going to be a major selling point!
Our Top Picks
1. Best Overall: Bonavita One-Touch 5 Cup Coffee Maker
2. Best Prestige Small Brewer: Technivorm Cup One
3. Best On A Tight Budget: Cuisinart 4 Cup with Stainless Steel Carafe
Bonus Option: Gevi 4-in-1 Smart Pour-Over
We’ve included a variety of different machines at different price points here, so hopefully, there is something to suit everyone. Not all of the machines we have featured here are strictly four cup, but we feel they represent the best of what is on offer at the smaller capacity end of the home batch brew market.
Across the full list, they include quite a range of features. Some have integrated grinders, some are programmable, some have very basic functionality. Be sure to check that whichever coffee maker you choose suits exactly what you need out of a machine.
A Closer Look at the Best 4 Cup Coffee Maker
Now to look over our favorites and their best features and drawbacks. This should not only give you some deeper information should you wish to choose one of the models featured here, but will hopefully also equip you with the knowledge you need to make your own choices regarding your best 4 cup coffee maker.
Bonavita One-Touch 5 Cup Coffee Maker – Best Overall
The 5 cup model of the Bonavita One-Touch range is the smaller cousin of their SCAA approved 8 cup Bonavita Connoisseur. It is a very similar design, although featuring a specifically designed showerhead to ensure even water dispersal on a smaller coffee bed.
It is finished in brushed, stainless steel which gives it a great look and doesn’t show fingerprint marks. The carafe also is a stainless steel thermal carafe, which ensures your coffee stays hot once brewed without leaving it in contact with a direct heat source. For more information about thermal carafes see our dedicated post.
This machine brews at a very stable temperature, maintaining a solid 200ºF (93ºC) throughout to achieve a well-balanced extraction. The option for a pre-infusion or bloom cycle, whereby the grounds are saturated and allowed to degas before the main pour, is a very important part of the brew process that is unfortunately rare in smaller brewers.
The carafe is certainly the weakest aspect of this machine. Although not the worst, its heat retention properties are not amazing. It should keep coffee hot for at least 30 minutes, which can be extended closer to the hour mark by preheating the carafe with hot water.
It can also be quite challenging to pour. The pouring spout is attached to the lid, rather than to the jug itself. This can be annoying as it means you have to put the lid on the carafe even when you aren’t going to save any for later. It also holds on to quite a bit of coffee — it can be very hard to get the last bit out.
Very stable brewing temperature,
Pre-infusion / bloom function
Not the best carafe design – retains coffee
Technivorm Cup One – Best Prestige Small Brewer
The Technivorm Cup One is a smaller version of their flagship Moccamaster, which has dominated the large automatic brewer market for many years. The Cup One produces excellent quality coffee. It is very simple to use, you just have to fill it with ground coffee and water and switch it on.
For some users, even when shopping for a 4 cup brewer, it may be too small. While the name suggests it is a one cup brewer, by the standard 5-ounce cups used for measurement in other brewers it would qualify as a 2 cup brewer.
Being very small it actually comes with an insulated mug rather than a carafe, but there’s no reason you couldn’t pop a different carafe underneath it. Or just run it through a couple of times as it only takes four minutes to brew. This is relatively fast for an automatic coffee brewer.
Due to its size, it doesn’t feature the same style of showerhead as the Moccamaster. Instead, it drips the water gently into the center of the coffee bed. This has the effect of allowing for more immersion brewing alongside the standard percolation, giving a slightly fuller-bodied cup, somewhat like a clever dripper.
If you want to really elevate your experience with this machine it may be advisable to switch it off for 30 seconds as soon as you see the water begin to drip through to emulate a bloom phase. At the price point though, it would be nice if this was an inbuilt feature rather than a hack.
Excellent brewing quality
Simplicity of use
May be too small
Cuisinart 4 Cup with Stainless Steel Carafe – Best On A Tight Budget
This machine from Cuisinart performs exceptionally well for its price. It is one of the cheapest units we have featured here but actually produces quite high quality coffee straight out of the box.
As with most cheaper automatic brewers, the brewing temperature runs a little cooler than ideal for a good extraction. This can be worked around by filling the reservoir with hot water, rather than the manufacturer-recommended cold. Alternatively, this machine runs at around 195°F (90.5°C), which is just about acceptable for most users.
The main annoyance with this machine is that it has a stainless steel carafe, which looks on the surface like it should be an insulated thermal carafe. It isn’t double-walled, however, and is just designed to replicate the aesthetic of more premium brewers. In fact, the single wall steel carafe actually loses heat faster than a glass carafe would.
Good extraction for the price bracket
Good water dispersal
Slightly misleading carafe — not great for thermal retention
This 4 cup coffee maker from Gevi produces very good coffee in its price bracket. You won’t get as good of an extraction as you might from the Technivorm or the Bonavita, but then you could buy half a dozen of these for the same money.
The build quality is fairly good for a cheaper, plastic machine. Almost unique amongst small, lower-end brewers, it actually has a brew temperature that runs hot enough for good extraction. There is some fluctuation throughout the brew process, and the water dispersal leaves a bit to be desired. But, it does produce a relatively good extraction with no tweaks.
One area that may be an issue for some is the reusable filter that comes with the machine. It doesn’t produce as clean of a cup as a paper filter would, so if you don’t like full-bodied and relatively oily brews this may not be for you. Due to the flow rate, some users have reported overflowing in the basket with paper filters.
The reusable filters are, of course, better environmentally though, so if this is something you can put up with it will be an advantage to some buyers.
Good brew temperature
The ALLFI from Melitta is a very dependable brewer. The build quality is good, the extractions are quite even, and the thermal carafe is very well designed. If you are looking for a mid-range option, this could be for you. Arguably though, by the time you are at this price bracket, you may be better served by saving a little bit longer and spending a bit more.
The carafe holds coffee at a good drinking temperature well past the hour mark. It is quite well designed from a pouring point of view as well. It retains only minimal brewed coffee, which is fairly rare for a thermal carafe.
Although this isn’t the most exciting brewer, and won’t give you the very best results, Melitta is a reliable brand and this machine should serve you just fine for a good five to ten years. If you do catch the specialty coffee bug and decide you need to upgrade, these will also hold their value fairly well and you should be able to sell it on.
Good quality extractions
Not the best value
Mr. Coffee’s 5 cup Mini Brew Switch machine is the cheapest brewer we have featured here. It does everything you would expect, and doesn’t do everything you might guess too. The brew temperature is too low and fairly unstable but can be hacked with hot water into the reservoir.
Similarly, the water dispersal from the shower arm is not very good, and so doesn’t give the most even extractions. But it will provide you with freshly brewed coffee every morning at a very low price.
It is also very simple to operate, working with just one button. This can be handy for early mornings when you just want a coffee with minimal thought and effort. Should anything go wrong with your brewer, Mr. Coffee have a very good reputation for swift and satisfactory customer service.
Established brand with good customer support
Very basic machine
The Siroca may be a very good solution if you want to spend a bit of time getting good fresh ground coffee in the morning. While it isn’t naturally programmable, it could be worth setting this machine up with a smart plug to grind and brew at a pre-agreed time.
The integration of a grinder could mean that you can have fresh ground and freshly brewed coffee waiting for you when you get out of bed in the morning. It is worth noting, however, that the grinder is quite noisy and doesn’t produce particularly uniform grinds. If you don’t need the convenience, you may be better with a separate grinder.
In terms of the brewer’s performance, it can produce acceptable quality coffee. The brew temperatures are a little low and water dispersal isn’t perfect, but most users will find the extractions perfectly acceptable.
Again, this brewer features a glass carafe. While the hotplate will keep this hot for up to two hours, we’d advise against drinking coffee that’s been sitting on a direct heat source for that long.
Has an integrated grinder
Not the best grinder
Gevi 4-in-1 Smart Pour-Over – Bonus Option
The Gevi 4-in-1 Smart Pour-Over is a great wild-card entry here if you’re prepared to think a little outside of the box to get your morning coffee. While it isn’t quite an automatic coffee brewer, you can have it set up to fulfill that function. But really the Gevi 4-in-1 is designed to replicate and automate the pour over process.
Although it has a relatively high price tag, when you consider that it incorporates a high-quality grinder, a scale, a kettle, and a brewing device all in one package you are actually getting very good value for money. If what you want is something to make you a very good cup of coffee with limited personal effort, this delivers.
The quality of the final cup, while depending somewhat on your own level of knowledge, can be very high. Arguably just as good as an expertly made V60. The integration of scale, grinder, and brewer is very intuitive and allows for precision control over every stage of the process.
The grinder itself features 60mm flat burrs and produces a very uniform grind. You could even use it as your only grinder if you like drinking espresso as well, although it won’t perform as well as top-end espresso grinders at that level of fineness.
The brewing arm rotates about the coffee bed, at a speed you set, to ensure absolutely even saturation. You can very precisely program a bloom phase, and as many subsequent pours as you like. You control the volume and temperature of water release. Essentially, it is like a pour over device, automated and with any scope for human error removed.
As with buying any coffee equipment, or indeed anything at all with a significant value attached, you will want to be as well informed as possible of the salient issues. It’s our aim in the following sections to help you to achieve this.
Our top tip when buying any coffee maker is to consider exactly what you want out of it. Somebody else’s best 4 cup coffee maker may not necessarily fit the bill for your requirements. Coffee is very personal at the best of times but, with so much choice on offer, finding the right brewer for you can be particularly idiosyncratic.
The design of your brewer, and most particularly of your carafe, is going to be one of the biggest impacting factors on your enjoyment of your new purchase. Be sure that all of the specifications are fit for your purpose.
If you need your coffee to stay warm for a little longer, carafe design will be very important to you. We would always recommend a thermal carafe over a glass one if you’re hoping to hot hold your brews. Equally, you should check customer reviews or try it yourself to see how it pours. Those last bits of coffee left in the bottom can be infuriating!
Ideally, you should look for as much metal as possible on a coffee brewer. This is usually a sign that manufacturing has been done to preserve quality over the years. Manufacturers of poor-quality products, on the other hand, often expect you to be replacing them two or three years down the line.
As we mentioned above as well, be sure to consider if you will be happy with a glass carafe, or if you need something made from a more insulative material like double-wall stainless steel.
Ease of Use
Most coffee drinkers like to start their day with a morning brew. This isn’t necessarily when you want to do your most complex thinking. While not a problem for everybody, for some home baristas, ease of use is going to be a very important factor.
Be sure to establish your own needs here. What you gain in ease of use, you may end up paying for in control over your brew.
The machines we have featured here come at a range of price points. The most expensive one on our list is around forty times the cost of the cheapest. It’s worth thinking not only about how much you can afford to spend but also what you need out of your coffee maker and how regularly you are going to use it.
For something you use every day and are passionate about, it is probably worth saving up a little bit longer and investing in something that is built to last and will grow with you as your skills improve.
Although the amount of extra features in smaller brewers is often somewhat limited when compared to larger or more premium offerings, you can still find one that will fit most needs if you shop around.
Extra features available can include built-in grinders, coffee pod compatibility, reusable mesh filters, and, in some cases, programmable presets. It is hard to find a true 4 cup machine that you can program to brew at a given time. There are some 5 cup brewers on the market, however, that will do this.
Whether you choose to go for one of the machines we have featured here, or just use the information here to guide you in your purchase, we hope you feel better informed about small coffee brewers than you did before reading. For our money, as far as small brewers go you can’t ask for better than the Bonavita One Touch 5 cup model.
It’s just as capable as its larger equivalents and produces premium coffee at an affordable price point. There’s a lot to be said for a small brewer. As you can see from some of the higher-end models we have featured here, you can get just as good of a coffee. There’s no need to be spending the earth or taking up all of the counter space in your kitchen.
See Also: Best Dual Coffee Machine