Best 4-Cup Coffee Maker (Reviews of 2020)

If you’re looking for a compact 4 cup coffee maker. With lots of options out there, how do you choose?

We’ll take you through the questions to consider before you buy. And when you’re clear about the features you need, check out our reviews of six of the best.

The Best 4 Cup Coffee Maker Reviews of 2020

1. Cuisinart DCC-450BK 4-Cup Coffeemaker (Our Top Recommended)

Cuisinart DCC-450BK 4-Cup Coffeemaker with Stainless-Steel Carafe, Black

The DCC-450 from Cuisinart is a neat little machine that doesn’t take up a lot of space.

It’s available in a classic black finish, but for something a little different there’s also a baby pink version.

Both come with a stainless steel thermal carafe to keep your coffee warm. There’s no warming plate, so no need to worry about “cooking” your coffee.

Careful thought has been given to the design of the carafe and the spout performs well without splashing or dripping.

One downside to the carafe is that there’s no gauge. That means it can take a bit of practice to add the right amount of water.

And you’ll have to lift the lid or keep count of your cups to know how much is left.

You won’t be able to programme this machine. You will, though, be able to pour your first cup before the carafe is full. That means waiting just a few minutes for your coffee.

There’s also a showerhead design to distribute the hot water evenly over the coffee grounds. That helps promote even extraction and better flavors.

And there’s a 30-minute automatic shut-off in case you forget to switch it off before leaving the house.

What I Like

  • Very compact design
  • Thermal carafe means no danger of burnt coffee
  • Showerhead water distribution promotes even flavor extraction
  • check
    30 minute automatic shut-off

What I Didn't Like

  • Not programmable
  • No gauge to tell you how much coffee is left

2. Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Switch Coffee Maker

Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Switch Coffee Maker, White - TF4-RB

A little larger overall than the Cuisinart, Mr. Coffee’s 4 cup switch machine also comes in two colours.

In this case they’re black and white, with the white option having a distinctly space-age appeal.

This one uses a glass carafe, complete with markers to show exactly how much coffee is left.

There’s also a clear window in the reservoir so you can see when the water needs topping up.

What you gain in transparency with a glass carafe, you lose in heat retention. This machine deals with this by coming with a warming plate.

Beware though: it will continue brewing the coffee, so leave it too long and you’ll be left with burnt flavors.

If you don’t want to risk that – or you’re drinking iced coffee – just switch off the hot plate.

There’s an automatic pause feature to allow you to pour coffee during brewing.

Just remove the carafe and brewing will start again when it’s back in position. And the filter basket lifts out for easy cleaning.

You won’t find many other bells or whistles here. There’s no program function or strength selection.

But if you’re looking for a simple, reliable machine it should make your shortlist.

What I Like

  • Glass carafe and reservoir window lets you check coffee and water levels at a glance
  • Pause brewing option to enjoy your coffee faster
  • Easy to clean

What I Didn't Like

  • Not programmable
  • That warming plate risks burnt flavors if you leave it on too long

3. Proctor Silex 4 Cup Red Coffee Maker

4 Cup Red Coffee Maker Small Kitchen Spaces Single Serving Coffeepot

This simple coffee maker is nevertheless a showstopper on your kitchen counter.

That’s down to the color: a vibrant fire-engine red.

For those who are short on space, it’s well worth a look. You’ll be hard pressed to find a smaller 4 cup machine.

In other respects, it’s quite similar to the Mr. Coffee offering.

It uses a glass carafe with a handy gauge to help you judge how much is left. There’s also a transparent section in the reservoir, allowing you to keep an eye on water levels.

You can’t program it, and there’s no auto off switch. It does have a warming plate though –remember to turn it off when you’ve finished to avoid a burnt carafe!

What I Like

  • Small enough to fit into the tiniest space
  • Great color
  • Easy to see how much water and coffee is left

What I Didn't Like

  • No automatic shut-off
  • Not programmable

4. KitchenBro 4 Cup Stainless Steel Coffee Maker

Coffee Maker 4 Cup Stainless Steel with Warming Plate (silver1)

If you’re looking for a coffee maker with gravitas, the KitchenBro is worth considering.

Its stainless steel casing wouldn’t look out of place in a professional kitchen. 

You won’t need the dimensions of a restaurant catering operation though: this is another compact machine.

While the casing is stainless steel, the carafe is glass. As such, it comes with a warming plate to keep the temperature at a drinkable level for longer.

Surprisingly, there’s no gauge on the side. So while you can see how much coffee is left, you’ll have to judge how many cups it will fill.

The carafe is well made though, and we’ve heard few complaints about dripping.

And one neat design feature is the opening at the top. It’s larger than most, which makes for easier cleaning.

It’s not programmable, but there is a brew-pause function. Its generous 3.5 meter cable also gives more flexibility than most when it comes to positioning it in the kitchen.

What I Like

  • Professional looking stainless steel finish
  • Brew-pause function
  • Extra long power cable

What I Didn't Like

  • No gauge on the carafe
  • Not programmable

5. Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker

This isn’t the best looking coffee maker on our list. It does, though, have something not many other 4 cup machines can boast: a program function.

If you love waking to the aroma of fresh coffee, it’s well worth checking out.  The timer is very easy to use.

Just press the “set delay” button, then use the hours and minutes buttons to set the time. The display on the front also allows it to double as a kitchen clock.

The carafe is made of glass, and there’s a handy gauge to see how much coffee remains. The reservoir also has a window with gauge on both sides.

There are other features too. You can pause brewing to pour coffee from the carafe. And the warming plate switches itself off automatically after an hour.

What I Like

  • Programmable timer
  • Automatic shut-off after an hour
  • Glass carafe and dual window in reservoir allows for easy checking of coffee and water levels

What I Didn't Like

  • Design is a little fussy
  • Avoid leaving your coffee on the warming plate for an hour if you don’t want it to burn.

6. Viante CAF-50 Grind and Brew Coffee Maker

Viante Mini Grind and Brew Coffee Maker with built in Coffee Grinder | Bean to Cup Machine Uses Whole Coffee Beans or Ground Coffee | 4 Cups Glass Carafe | Coffee Strength Selector | Compact Size

Another neat little machine, the Viante CAF-50 manages to pack in a grinder alongside its coffee maker.

It’s a great idea for a small machine, but unfortunately the grinder quality isn’t the best.

To start with, it’s a blade grinder. If you’re looking for optimal flavor, it will struggle to get the consistency of grind size you need. And there are only two settings to choose from.

This means that while it’s a convenient option, you’ll get better results with a separate burr grinder.

There is, though, an “intensity selector” allowing you to choose from regular and bold flavors. And you can choose to brew pre-ground coffee too.

The carafe here is glass, and there’s an integrated warming plate. The whole thing is finished in stainless steel, and sits inside a box-like structure.

It gives it a distinctive appearance – we think it looks a bit like a microwave.

What I Like

  • Built-in grinder gives you the option of using whole beans
  • Regular or bold flavor settings
  • Great space-saving design – particularly for a machine with a grinder

What I Didn't Like

  • Grinder isn’t the best quality
  • Not programmable

Why buy a 4 cup coffee maker?

Coffee makers can be big pieces of equipment. If you love your morning cup of Joe but don’t have much room on your countertop, a 4 cup machine could be the answer.

They’re usually space saving devices, and they’re easy to use. If you’re looking for a decent cup of drip coffee without fuss, they’ll do the job. Some have more bells and whistles than others – we’ll take a look at some of the features available later.

The big compromise is capacity. If you’ve got a large household of coffee lovers, a 4 cup machine won’t give you what you need. Similarly, if you want a single cup fast, a one cup option will be the better deal. It will brew a fresh cup every time, and it can be ready in less than a minute.

Of course, some people prefer the flavor of drip coffee over pods.

But if there’s only one or two of you to serve, a small machine can be very convenient.  So how do you choose the model that’s right for you?

Keeping it hot

One of the advantages of a small coffee maker is that you’re unlikely to be left with coffee going stale. Those 4 “cups” are generally five ounces each, so if you’re using mugs you’ll probably only get two servings.

If you’re drinking what you brew straight away, you’ll benefit from maximum freshness. That means better flavor. But what if you want to come back for refills through the morning? You’ll want to make sure there’s a way of keeping it hot.

To do that, you have two basic options: a thermal carafe or a warming plate.

A thermal carafe is designed to keep the heat in. They’re usually made of stainless steel with a double wall to prevent heat loss. They won’t burn the coffee, but you won’t be able to see how much is left without lifting the lid.

A warming plate is usually used with a glass carafe. It deals with heat loss by continuing to apply heat after the coffee has brewed.

The temperature of a warming plate is hugely important. Too cool and it won’t do its job. Too hot and you’ll find you’re left with an unpleasant burnt taste.

Both a thermal carafe and a warming plate can work, but they won’t stop your coffee going stale. So whichever option you choose, be realistic about how long you can keep it before drinking. Your machine may keep it hot for 20 hours, but it’s still going to taste pretty unpleasant by then.

Plain and simple or gadget lover?

4 cup machines are generally pretty simple, but there are still some options for different features.

Consider whether you want to be able to programme your machine. If you love to wake to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, that’s a great option. But if pottering in the kitchen is part of your morning routine, it won’t be so important.

Do you love the superior flavor of freshly ground coffee? If so, perhaps you’ve already invested in your own burr grinder. Alternatively, you might want to consider a machine that grinds as well as brews. Those will tend to be more expensive though, particularly if the grinder is decent quality.

And remember that even a 4 cup machine won’t be as quick as a single serve option like a Keurig coffee maker. You’ll still need the longer contact time between the water and coffee to get a good flavor. If you can’t wait, consider a machine that allows you to interrupt brewing to pour a cup.

The perfect pour

It might sound obvious, but the carafe is a vital component of your coffee maker. The spout design is particularly important. Who wants to drip coffee all over their table or countertop every time they pour?

Some manufacturers pay more attention to this than others. Look for references to easy pouring in product descriptions. And check reviews: if there’s a problem here, customers will definitely point it out.

Ready to choose your coffee maker? Read on as we take you through the features of six of the top selling models out there.

Ready to choose?

We hope you’ve enjoyed our round-up of 4 cup coffee makers!

Our vote goes to the Cuisinart DCC-450. We think the showerhead design of the water dispenser really adds to the flavor. And personally, we prefer a thermal carafe, even if you can’t see how much coffee is left inside.

Whichever machine you choose, we hope you’re soon using it to make great coffee!

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