The Best 4 Cup Coffee Maker In 2020

If you’re in a rush and just want to find out what the best 4 cup coffee maker is, then I highly recommend the Cuisinart DCC 450BK as the top choice.

Whether you’re a family of coffee drinkers or just someone who wants a steady stream of caffeine, picking the best 4 cup coffee maker requires a little bit of careful research.

To help you out, I’ve reviewed five of the most popular 4 cup makers on the market today.

Sale
Cuisinart DCC-450BK 4-Cup Coffeemaker with…
  • 4-Cup Stainless-steel carafe with dripless pour spout and knuckle guard
  • Brew-pause feature lets you enjoy a cup of coffee before brewing has finished
  • 30 minute automatic shutoff and convenient ON indicator light. BPA Free.UC Cubic Feet: 0.37
Mr. Coffee Simple Brew Coffee Maker|4 Cup…
  • On/off indicator light lets you know when your coffee maker is on or off
  • Grab-A-Cup Auto Pause stops cycle if you need a cup (1 cup = 5 oz) before brewing is finished
  • Dual water window allows visibility as you fill—no more overflows
Zojirushi EC-DAC50 Zutto 5-Cup Drip…
  • 650-watt drip coffeemaker brews up to 5 cups of coffee
  • Filter cone sits inside decanter making it more compact and easier to use
  • Concealed, removable water reservoir; automatic keep-warm function
Sale
Bonavita 5-Cup One-Touch Coffee Maker…
  • One-touch brew operation with auto-off
  • Powerful and precise 1100-watt heater maintains optimal brewing temperature of 198°-205°F (92°-96°C)
  • Optional pre-infusion mode saturates freshly roasted ground coffee to allow degassing before brewing
Mr. Coffee Advanced Brew 5 Cup Programmable…
  • Delay Brew timer lets you brew ahead of time, so you can wake up to fresh brewed coffee. Cord length: 26…
  • Grab A Cup Auto Pause stops cycle if you need a cup before brewing is finished
  • Water window allows visibility as you fill no more overflows. Removable filter basket for quick and easy…

(Viva Flavor is reader-supported. If you make a purchase using one of our links, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. )

A quick note before we start. I’m looking at 4 and 5 cup coffee makers in this article, as the size of a cup varies hugely. Giving yourself a bit of leeway before picking a compact coffee maker like this is probably a good idea

(If you want to explore more of my coffee content, take a look at the home brewing guide I have on the site!)

4 Cup Coffee Maker Reviews

Let’s get straight into the reviews. I’ve made some clear recommendations where I think a particular coffee maker outperforms the competition.

If you want to continue your research, you’ll find a buying guide just below the reviews.

Cuisinart DCC-450BK 4 Cup

The DCC-450BK is a sleekly designed, very compact 4 cup coffee maker with a stainless steel carafe. It’s easy to stash away in the cupboard when it’s not in use, but also looks quite nice out on the countertop.

It doesn’t take long to finish a brew at all (around five minutes), but there is a Brew Pause function built into this coffee maker. If you want to grab your first cup before the brew’s finished, you can hit the button and get 30 seconds to pour a quick cup before the machine carries on with the job.

Sale
Cuisinart DCC-450BK 4-Cup Coffeemaker with…
  • 4-Cup Stainless-steel carafe with dripless pour spout and knuckle guard
  • Brew-pause feature lets you enjoy a cup of coffee before brewing has finished
  • 30 minute automatic shutoff and convenient ON indicator light. BPA Free.UC Cubic Feet: 0.37

Pouring’s easy and the spout has been designed to prevent spillages too. The handle is ergonomically designed and features a knuckle guard so you don’t burn your hand.

There’s a 30 minute auto shut-off, which is good for peace of mind. Unfortunately there isn’t a timer, so you won’t be able to prepare your coffee the night before and wake up to a fresh brew.

All of the parts come apart easily enough for cleaning too.

Finally, the DCC-450BK includes a 3 year warranty as standard. That speaks for itself when it comes to durability, and Cuisinart’s reputation for making long-lasting kitchen appliances is well deserved.

Pros

  • Built to a very high specification and doesn’t feel – or look – cheap.
  • Some owners have reported the Cuisinart providing great tasting coffee for years – a decade or more in some cases!
  • Small footprint makes it ideal for smaller kitchens, or when you don’t want yet another appliance getting in the way.
  • Water gauge is extremely easy to read.

Cons

  • Carafe lid can be a little hard to get off without a decent grip.
  • Can get a little bit noisy which may be a consideration for you.
  • Fiddly to clean due to the design of the lifting handle.
  • 30 minute shut off means you’ll need to drink briskly or end up with cold coffee.
  • Not even a single paper filter included out of the box.

BEST OVERALL: “It’s hard to go wrong with Cuisinart’s 4 cup coffee machine. It’s compact, looks good, makes great coffee and it will last for years. I wish it had a timer function, but that’s about the only real downside to this excellent coffee machine.”

Zojirushi Zutto 5-Cup

Zojirushi’s 5-Cup coffee maker is quite a clever bit of kit.

The coffee is fed into the glass carafe using a cone-shaped filter. This shape ensures the water passes through the grounds more evenly, which results in a better cup of coffee.

That coffee’s improved further by the built-in charcoal filter. This really helps with the water quality, and you should get around two years of typical use from it before you’ll need to replace it.

Zojirushi EC-DAC50 Zutto 5-Cup Drip…
  • 650-watt drip coffeemaker brews up to 5 cups of coffee
  • Filter cone sits inside decanter making it more compact and easier to use
  • Concealed, removable water reservoir; automatic keep-warm function

As I’ve mentioned it is a glass carafe coffee maker, which comes with its disadvantages. It won’t retain the heat as long as a stainless steel carafe will, for example. If you drop it, it’s also more likely to shatter.

Although there’s a warming function, I don’t recommend letting coffee stew for all that long or it will become bitter. This is a machine you’ll like more if you drink through your coffee batches quite quickly.

There’s no timer or auto shut-off feature either. That means you can’t set it up the night before, and you should make sure to switch it off when you’re finished.

In terms of design, the water reservoir is quite cleverly built deep into the chassis, making the Zutto one of the most compact 5 cup coffee makers on the market.

Pros

  • Slightly larger capacity means you’re likely to get the cups you need.
  • Clever design to keep the coffeemaker extremely compact.
  • Warming plate remains hot for some time, keep your coffee nicely warmed.

Cons

  • Can drip and be a little leaky if not used with care. Just make sure you pour very slowly.
  • No automatic shut-off, so you’ll need to remember to turn it off once you’ve finished brewing.
  • Creates a lot of steam, which may limit your placement options.

BEST FLAVOR“The filter design and charcoal filter ensures coffee from the Zutto tastes surprisingly good for a machine at this end of the market. If a flavorful cup of coffee is your most important consideration, I think you’ll be impressed by this one.”

Mr Coffee Simple Brew

This is one of Mr Coffee’s more primitive coffee brewers, but it does a very good job of brewing up a small batch of coffee.

It’s basic stuff, but it’s big enough to make a couple of good-sized mugs of coffee from each cycle.

Mr. Coffee Simple Brew Coffee Maker|4 Cup…
  • On/off indicator light lets you know when your coffee maker is on or off
  • Grab-A-Cup Auto Pause stops cycle if you need a cup (1 cup = 5 oz) before brewing is finished
  • Dual water window allows visibility as you fill—no more overflows

Mr Coffee’s equivalent of Brew Pause is something it calls “Grab-A-Cup”. As the name suggests, this means you can interrupt the brewing cycle before it’s finished to grab a quick cup.

As for the water reservoir it’s very easy to see how much water is left in the machine. That means you won’t end up over-filling the thing, and creating a big wet mess on your countertop.

There’s also a Power On indicator light to remind you to switch it off and save energy. I’d rather have an auto shut-off, but it’s a decent middle ground.

In terms of cleaning, the filter basket comes out easily enough. Most of the other parts are also dishwasher safe too, which makes it easy to care for.

Pros

  • Glass carafe is supported by a reasonably good hot plate function.
  • Very easy to use and care for.
  • Water level is extremely clear.

Cons

  • The glass carafe won’t by itself hold heat for very long.
  • No auto shut-off function.
  • Not a programmable coffee maker.

BEST BUDGET“If you’re looking for a no-nonsense 4 cup coffee maker, this is the best value for money machine you can buy. It won’t hold heat for long, but if you’re looking to glug and go I think this is a very good option.

Bonavita 5 Cup One-Touch BV1500TS

Bonavita’s a very well-respected brand in the coffee world. Its 5 cup machine is a great entry point for those looking to up their coffee game without sacrificing speed and convenience.

There are a few things that make the Bonavita stand out from the rest of the pack.

Sale
Bonavita 5-Cup One-Touch Coffee Maker…
  • One-touch brew operation with auto-off
  • Powerful and precise 1100-watt heater maintains optimal brewing temperature of 198°-205°F (92°-96°C)
  • Optional pre-infusion mode saturates freshly roasted ground coffee to allow degassing before brewing

First, the coffee grounds are pre-infused. This allows the coffee to bloom a little before the full extraction begins. This results in a much more flavorful and aromatic cup of coffee.

The cross-shaped showerhead inside the brewer is also designed to ensure the water soaks the coffee grounds evenly. Again, this results in a much better extraction.

Once brewed, the coffee is stored in a high quality stainless steel carafe which I think does a good job of holding the heat longer than most other machines.

The flip side? The BV1500TS typically requires a bigger up-front investment. It’s still very affordable for a machine in this category, but it’s something to be aware of.

It’s worth nothing as well that the BV1500TS is also available as an 8 cup version. You might want to check that one out if you want better coffee, in a slightly largely volume.

Pros

  • Showerhead design and pre-infusion tech results in a superior cup of coffee.
  • A hugely trusted brand amongst coffee connoisseurs.
  • Brews coffee consistently well at the correct temperature.
  • Most parts – including the filter basket – are dishwasher-safe.

Cons

  • Higher cost than other coffee machines in this category.
  • No programming options. You can’t set this up the night before, and it takes around 6 minutes to brew.

BEST PREMIUM“If you want a much better cup of coffee and don’t mind spending a little more money, Bonavita’s 5 Cup coffee maker is a very good investment. The pre-infusion tech and showerhead design produce a genuinely impressive cup of coffee.”

Mr Coffee Advanced Brew 5 Cup

Unsurprisingly, Mr Coffee’s Advanced Brew system is an evolution of the Simple Brew system I’ve already reviewed in this article.

What does that get you though?

The most significant improvement is the addition of what Mr Coffee calls its Delay Brew timer. That gives you the ability to program the coffee machine 24 hours in advance.

Mr. Coffee Advanced Brew 5 Cup Programmable…
  • Delay Brew timer lets you brew ahead of time, so you can wake up to fresh brewed coffee. Cord length: 26…
  • Grab A Cup Auto Pause stops cycle if you need a cup before brewing is finished
  • Water window allows visibility as you fill no more overflows. Removable filter basket for quick and easy…

It also includes a one hour auto shut-off feature. That means you won’t have to worry about having a hot appliance heating away unattended.

Apart from that you get the other features found in the Simple Brew edition.

The water window is very easy to read, for example, so you won’t overfill the machine. The filter basket is also very easy to remove for cleaning. The Grab-A- Cup pause function lets you grab a cup mid-brew.

If you like the sound of the Simple system but want something with a little more functionality, the Advanced Brew coffee maker is the obvious choice.

Pros

  • Auto shut-off function is great for those of us who hate to leave hot appliances on in the background
  • 24 hour programmable coffee maker.
  • Grab A Cup pause function lets you get a quick fill of coffee before the entire brew has finished.

Cons

  • A clunkier design than some of the other options in this round-up.
  • Glass carafe won’t hold the heat as well as a stainless steel carafe.

BEST MR COFFEE: “If you want a 4 / 5-cup Mr Coffee maker, the Advanced Brew system is the best option in this brand. It gives you a couple extra functions which justify the extra investment you’ll need to make.”

Verdict

All the 4 cup coffee makers in this article do a really good job of small scale, convenient coffee brewing. It’s a really a question of the fine details.

That said my personal favorite is the Cuisinart DCC-450BK. It’s compact, it makes great coffee, and it’s backed up with a generous warranty.

If you want a machine that looks good on the countertop, but also stores easily enough, it’s extremely easy to recommend.

Sale
Cuisinart DCC-450BK 4-Cup Coffeemaker with…
  • 4-Cup Stainless-steel carafe with dripless pour spout and knuckle guard
  • Brew-pause feature lets you enjoy a cup of coffee before brewing has finished
  • 30 minute automatic shutoff and convenient ON indicator light. BPA Free.UC Cubic Feet: 0.37

Click here if you want to find out more about this popular coffee maker.

What to consider before buying?

Want to do a little more research before settling on a machine?

There are a few things to think about before you settle on your choice of 4 Cup coffee maker. Many of these buying factors will depend on your own preferences and circumstances.

Think about the following things when making your decision:

Size And Design

Most 4 cup coffee makers are designed to be compact, convenient and inconspicuous. They’re ideal for smaller kitchens in particular, and can be stored away in a cupboard if they’re only used occasionally.

Of course, you have to consider your own kitchen layout when choosing a coffee maker.

Check the dimensions on the manufacturer’s listing, so you can be sure it’ll fit where you plan to locate it.

With that in mind, check the cord length too if that information is available.

For entry level machines like this it’s quite common for manufacturer’s to cut costs where they can. You’ll need to be able to power the machine where you plan to put it!

Finally, check to see if the carafe itself pours cleanly, and without dribbling coffee mess all over the place.

It should also have a handle that makes the carafe easy to carry around the kitchen.

Timer & Auto Shut Off

Many of the 4 cup coffee makers on the market feature an auto shut-off function, but not all of them do.

I quite like the peace of mind that an auto shut-off provides, so I always look for it in a machine,whether 4 cup, 5 cup or more.

As for a timer, it’s always nice to be able to set up your first brew of the day the night before. It saves a bit of time and you get that lovely coffee aroma wafting around the house.

How Big Is A Cup Anyway?

Most of us consider a cup of coffee to be around 8 fluid ounces of liquid. Manufacturers? More like 5 oz.

A 4 Cup coffee maker is good for two people to have a decent drink, and maybe a little top-up afterwards.

Any more than that though and you might be better off exploring a 5 cup coffee maker instead.

How easy is it to clean?

Not all coffee maker carafes are safe to put in a washing machine, and it’s important to check before you do so.

If you’re short of time to clean up, then you should look for a carafe that’s been specifically marked as dishwasher safe.

When I’ve cooked for people and want to finish up with a round of coffee, I’d much rather be able to throw it in the machine with the rest of the dishes and enjoy my own cup with my friends!

Reusable Or Permanent Filter?

Many 4 cup coffee makers use a permanent filter. You never need to replace it (unless it breaks), and they’re quite often dishwasher-safe too. That’s handy as the filter basket can be one of the fussier parts to clean by hand.

They’re also more environmentally friendly than paper filters, and you don’t need to keep buying more filters over time.

Many also feel that paper filters lend a sort of “dry” aftertaste to the coffee. Something to be aware of.

Is It Easy To Clean?

The best 4 cup coffee makers are as easy to clean as they are to use. Look for a machine that has dishwasher-safe removable parts.

It should also be easy to disassemble for cleaning. The filter basket, lid, reservoir and carafe should all be cleaned regularly, so they should be easy to remove.

You should also check that you’ll be able to clean the carafe out easily. A good soak will usually get the job done, but there’ll be times when you need to give it a good scrub. Can you fit your hand in easily?

Check The Brewing Temperature

Even a simple 4 Cup coffee maker should brew coffee at the correct temperature.

A coffee maker should reach a temperature of 195-205 degrees during the brew. Any higher than that and the coffee will burn. Any lower and you’ll end up with a poorly-extracted, very disappointing cup of coffee.

The Size Of The Coffee Maker

If you don’t use your coffee maker regularly, then you’ll want one that’s either compact enough that it doesn’t hog too much kitchen space, or small enough that you can store it conveniently.

There are coffee machines on the market that you can fix to the wall and attach to the plumbing, which saves countertop space. You’ll need to connect it to your main water supply, however, and in a similar fashion to an ice-maker.

The good news is that four cup coffee makers tend to be pretty small by their nature. Just check if the model in question is going to work for your own kitchen arrangements.

Filling The Water Reservoir

4 cup coffee makers are typically quite compact, but it’s important to note the location of the water reservoir.

Some are filled through the side of the machine, while you’ll need access to the top on others.

Assuming you plan to leave the coffee maker out on the countertop, rather than storing it away, you’ll need easy access for refills.

What’s Your Budget?

None of the 4 / 5 Cup coffee makers I’ve reviewed in this guide cost the earth, but you need to look beyond the upfront cost.

Does the machine use a permanent filter, or will you have to continue buying paper filters?

It’s also worth looking for a brand that has a good reputation for energy efficiency. You’ll pay a little more up front, but you’ll save money on your bills in the long run.

Do You Need Brew Pause?

Some machines feature something that’s commonly known as a “Brew Pause” function.

That means you can interrupt the machine halfway through the brewing process, and grab a quick single cup before the machine goes on to finish the rest.

The average 4 or 5 cup coffee maker will usually get the job done within 5 minutes or so of starting the brew, but it can be a handy function to have anyway.

Materials

4 cup coffee makers typically look either plastic-y or modern with a stainless steel carafe and overall finish. You’ll likely favor the latter if you have a very modern-looking kitchen.

Beyond appearances though, there are a few things to think about when picking the material of the carafe itself

  • Glass – A glass carafe is typically very easy to clean and the material won’t interfere with the flavor of your coffee either. They won’t retain a lot of heat by themselves for long though.
  • Stainless Steel – A stainless steel carafe will keep your coffee warmer by itself for much longer. It’s also less prone to breaking if you accidentally drop it.
  • Plastic – Extremely durable and won’t cost as much, but it’s not got much to offer in the way of looks. If you go down this route, make sure the plastic carafe is BPA-free.

Brewing Tips

To get the most out of your 4 cup coffee maker there are a few tips which I think you might find quite useful.

Use High Quality Water

Your 4 cup coffee maker is only going to perform as well as the water and the coffee you put in it.

If you can find a way of using filtered water, you’ll notice a definite improvement in the flavor of your brew. Just because you’re using a compact 4 or 5 Cup coffee maker, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the quality of the end result!

If the machine doesn’t have a water filter built in – and you don’t have plumbed-in water filtration – look to get one of those countertop filter jugs that you can top up throughout the day.

When you fill the machine, just fill the water filter jug up again so it’s ready for the next brew.

Buy Some Good Quality Beans

The second important ingredient is, of course, the coffee itself. The best coffee maker in the world won’t be able to do much with substandard coffee.

In an ideal world we’d all grind fresh from whole coffee beans. If you want to go down this route you’ll need to buy a separate coffee grinder, as there are no 4 Cup coffee machines I know of that have a built-in grinder.

By using whole beans, you preserve every little bit of the coffee’s flavor and potential. The moment that shell gets smashed open, its potential starts to decline.

Check the roasting date on your whole coffee beans as well. These are best bought in small batches, as you want to get them used up within a couple of weeks of roasting if it’s at all possible.

If you want to use pre-ground coffee, there’s no harm in that at all. I would recommend treating yourself to the best quality coffee you can justify for your budget though.

Take Care Of Your Coffee Maker

Even if you’re buying a budget-focused 4 or 5 cup coffee machine, a little extra care and attention will reward you with a product that lasts a lot longer.

Your coffee maker’s instruction manual may well contain cleaning instructions, so check first. Otherwise, a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water will do a great job of cleaning the carafe.

Just fill it with this solution and then put the machine through a brewing cycle. Rinse thoroughly afterwards to get rid of any lingering smell and taste.

I recommend giving your coffee maker a thorough clean at least once a month. If there are any dishwasher-safe parts, run them through on the top rack more often than this. It doesn’t take a lot of effort and it really makes a difference to the performance and longevity of the appliance.

If you notice your coffee is tasting noticeably off, it may be time to descale the coffee machine. This is more likely to happen if you live in a hard water area, and you’re not using filtered water.

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