With small makers, you tend to get a lot of machine for your money and save up on kitchen space. That’s two compelling reasons, enough for us to go out on a quest to find the best 4-cup coffee maker out there.
The best route to excellent quality batch-brewed coffee in a small home brewer would have to be the Bonavita 5-cup. While not strictly 4-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 hey, if you’re shopping for a 4-cup, that will 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
Across the full list of favorites, these coffee makers include quite a range of features. Some have integrated grinders, some are programmable, and some have very basic functionality. Be sure to have in mind what exactly you need out of a machine.
1. Bonavita One-Touch 5 Cup Coffee Maker – Best Overall
The 5-cup model of the Bonavita One-Touch comes in brushed, stainless steel which gives it a great look and doesn’t show fingerprint marks. The carafe is also made of stainless steel. This ensures your coffee stays hot once brewed without leaving it in contact with a direct heat source.
This machine brews at a very stable temperature, maintaining a solid 200ºF (93ºC) throughout to achieve a well-balanced extraction. What we especially liked is the option for a pre-infusion or bloom cycle in the brew process. With this, the grounds are saturated and allowed to degas before the main pour. Unfortunately, it’s rare to see this feature in smaller brewers.
It’s worth pointing out that the carafe is a weak point of this machine. While thermal, its heat retention properties are not amazing. It will 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 hard to get the last bit out.
- Pre-infusion / bloom function
- Brushed, stainless steel
- Thermal carafe
- Very stable brewing temperature
- Not the best heat retention
- Suboptimal carafe design
2. 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. You just have to fill it with ground coffee and water and switch it on. That’s not a lot of work to get a great cup of coffee.
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, in reality, 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. Alternatively, 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 showerhead style as the Moccamaster. Instead, it gently drips the water into the coffee bed’s center. This allows for more immersion brewing alongside the standard percolation, giving a slightly fuller-bodied cup; imagine a clever dripper.
If you want to elevate your experience with this machine, it may be advisable to switch it off for 30 seconds as soon as you see the water drip through. This emulates 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
- Relatively fast brewing
- May be too small
- No carafe
- No bloom function
3. 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 featured here but produces high-quality coffee straight out of the box.
As with most cheaper automatic brewers, the brewing temperature runs slightly 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 like it should be an insulated thermal carafe on the surface. It isn’t double-walled, however, and is just designed to replicate the aesthetic of more premium brewers. The single-wall steel carafe loses heat faster than a glass carafe would.
- Good extraction for the price bracket
- Good water dispersal
- Acceptable brewing temperature
- Slightly misleading carafe — not great for thermal retention
- No bloom control
Like the Cuisinart machine, this 4-cup coffee maker from Gevi produces excellent 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 the Gevis for the same money.
The build quality is fairly good for a cheaper plastic machine. Almost unique among small, lower-end brewers, it has a brew temperature that runs hot enough for good extraction. There is some fluctuation throughout the 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. So, this may not be for you if you don’t like full-bodied and relatively oily brews. Due to the flow rate, some users have reported overflowing in the basket with paper filters.
The reusable filters are, of course, better environmentally. If this is something you can put up with, it will be an advantage to some buyers.
- Low price
- Good brew temperature
- Fairly good build quality
- Reusable filter – not as clean a cup
- No carafe
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. This could be for you if you are looking for a mid-range option.
The carafe holds coffee at a suitable drinking temperature well past the hour mark, and it is also pretty well designed from a pouring point of view. 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. This machine should serve you just fine for a good five to ten years. In case you catch the specialty coffee bug and decide you need to upgrade, the ALLFI will also hold its value reasonably well, and you should be able to sell it.
- Very well-designed thermal carafe
- 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 expect; however, you get what you pay for. 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, so it doesn’t give the most even extractions. But it will provide you with freshly brewed coffee at a very low price every morning.
This machine 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 has a very good reputation for swift and satisfactory customer service.
- Very affordable
- Simple to operate
- Established brand with good customer support
- Very basic machine
- Low brewing temperature
- Not very even extractions
- Size: 4 cup / 32 Ounces
- Filters: Reusable Mesh Filter
- Programmable: No
- Carafe Style: Glass
- Bloom Control: No
The Siroca may be a perfect solution if you are willing to spend some 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.
Integrating a grinder could mean having 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 off with a separate grinder.
Regarding 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 fine.
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
- Decent quality coffee
- Not the best grinder
- Glass carafe
8. Gevi 4-in-1 Smart Pour-Over – Bonus Option
The Gevi 4-in-1 Smart Pour-Over is a great wild-card entry if you’re prepared to think a little outside of the box. 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.
Admittedly, it has a relatively high price tag. However, when you consider that it features a high-quality grinder, a scale, a kettle, and a brewing device in one package, you are actually getting very good value. If you want something to make you a delicious cup of coffee with little 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. Integrating scale, grinder, and brewer is intuitive and allows for precision control over every stage of the process.
The grinder features 60mm flat burrs and produces a uniform grind. You could even use it as your only grinder if you like drinking espresso. However, 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 the speed you set to ensure absolutely even saturation. You can very precisely program a bloom phase and as many subsequent pours as you like, and you control the volume and temperature of water release. Essentially, it is like a manual pour-over device, with any scope for human error removed.
- Brewing device, grinder, scale and kettle all in one
- Delivers high quality coffee
- Produces a uniform grind
- High price tag
- Not as simple to operate
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.
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, the 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. Opt for the Melitta ALLFI in this case.
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 the quality over the years. The Bonavita or the Technivorm would be great choices in terms of build quality. 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, 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 will be a crucial 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. While none of the machines in our list are very challenging to operate, the Technivorm and the Mr. Coffee are especially easy to use.
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 (we’re looking at you, Gevi 4-in-1) of the cheapest. It’s worth thinking not only about how much you can afford to spend but also about what you need from your coffee maker and how regularly you will use it.
For something you use daily and are passionate about, it is probably worth saving up a little bit longer. If you invest in something built to last, it will grow with you as your skills improve.
Although the amount of extra features in smaller brewers is often somewhat limited compared to larger or more premium offerings, you can still find one that will fit most needs if you shop around.
Extra features can include built-in grinders, coffee pod compatibility, reusable mesh filters, and, in some cases, programmable presets. It is hard to find an actual 4-cup machine you can program to brew at a given time.
To summarize, 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. No need to spend the earth or take up all of the counter space in your kitchen.