When you don’t drink that much coffee, there’s no point in buying a bulky machine.
A good compact coffee maker can be just as functional. And it can surely make delicious coffee.
That’s what I want to talk to you about today. I’ve prepared a guide of the best 4-cup coffee makers for you to see, which of these handy compact machines can satisfy your daily coffee cravings.
Things to Consider When Looking For the Best 4-Cup Coffee Maker
Let’s face it:
You don’t have to be a tech expert to pick a good 4-cup coffee machine for daily use in your household.
However, you shouldn’t be careless about this task either. After all, you don’t want to end up with something you don’t enjoy using, right?
That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the key factors that can really make a difference when it comes to finding a suitable 4-cup coffee machine.
Now, modern coffee makers use both paper and mesh filters, and the final choice would depend on your preferences. Paper filters are much easier to use since they don’t require any extra cleaning. You just throw the filter out when you’re done. Paper filters are able to catch even the finest grounds and usually result in a “cleaner” tasting coffee.
As for mesh filters, they are typically made of stainless steel. They aren’t too fine and can let some of the grounds get into your cup. However, metal filters are more efficient since you don’t have to constantly buy new ones. Instead, the price you pay is regular cleaning. Another thing to note is that because mesh filters don’t soak up the coffee oils, you may end up with a richer flavor. However, this may also cause a change in your coffee taste while it’s staying in the carafe due to the faster oxidizing process (2).
Features and Programmability
Frankly, 4-cup coffee machines are usually quite simple in terms of programmability and features. But some models do have something to order.
For instance, a 4-cup programmable coffee maker with a timer would allow you to set everything up the night before so that your machine would start brewing coffee automatically in the morning. A pause function is handy since it allows users to sneak a cup out of the carafe while the brewing cycle isn’t over yet. An auto shut-off makes the machine turn off automatically after a certain amount of time, thus saving electricity and preventing your coffee from overheating and losing its flavor.
Another extra feature you may want to consider is an integrated grinder. A good grind and brew coffee maker will allow you to enjoy the freshest beverages.
If you want to experiment with making different types of beverages, you may want to consider one of the best all-in-one coffee makers. Such machines are very functional and allow for versatility in use. Another way to enjoy versatility is by getting a dual coffee maker. This way, you will have multiple size options, including a single cup, a full carafe, and more.
For better coffee quality, you may want to consider getting an automatic pour-over coffee machine. Such brewers use a special water dispersion system that ensures proper saturation of the grounds. As a result, the extraction is more even, so you get a smoother-tasting, richer cup of coffee every time.
And let’s not forget about the proper temperature. The best brewers (like these SCAA-certified coffee makers) maintain an optimal water temperature all through the process, preventing the coffee grounds from overheating and guaranteeing a proper coffee extraction.
Also read: Best Thermal Carafe Coffee Makers
Now, more expensive coffee makers would use stainless steel and plastic, would use stainless steel and plastic, while cheaper options are mostly plastic. That’s common on the coffee maker market, so there’s nothing really to worry about. The only thing you should keep in mind is that stainless steel coffee machines are more durable. So, if your budget allows it, you may want to spend a bit more.
As for plastic models, they will require more careful maintenance. Many users are concerned about plastic because it contains BPA, so they choose BPA-free options. However, recent studies suggest that there’s not much difference between BPA and its substitutes (3), so you don’t have to waste hours trying to find a BPA-free coffee maker.
Also read: Machines that don’t contain Bisphenol A
Design and Aesthetics
Let’s face it:
You don’t want a coffee maker that would ruin the overall look of your kitchen.
Luckily, modern coffee machines come in all shapes and sizes. If you want to add a more luxurious feel to your kitchen, consider a metal coffee maker. Such models look more expensive. If your space is limited or you appreciate minimalism, you may want to check single-serve coffee makers, which are usually very compact and sleek.
Many users want their coffee promptly. Typically, 4-cup coffee machines are quite fast and brew coffee in a few minutes. However, there are dual coffee makers that allow users to get a fast single serving when needed, so you may want to check them out here. As an alternative, you can consider models with a pause function so that you could grab a cup when you can’t wait.
Ease of Use
Generally, 4-cup coffee machines are quite easy to deal with. The most user-friendly ones are probably Keurig coffee makers that operate with just one touch of a button and work with convenient coffee pods. You may want to consider the water reservoir, though. When it’s not removable, the filling process may become quite hectic for some users. Additionally, there are many options with dishwasher safe parts, which makes maintenance almost effortless.
If you don’t want to deal with the refills at all, you can check some of the best coffee makers with a water line. They are compatible with plumbing kits and can be connected to a water supply directly. This means, such a coffee machine would pump as much water as needed for brewing, ridding you of the constant need to refill the reservoir.
Carafe: Glass or Stainless Steel?
A carafe deserves to be mentioned separately here due to its importance.
That’s where your precious coffee is stored. That’s what is supposed to keep it warm and fresh. And that’s why the material of the carafe matters.
Now, you will come across two options when shopping for a coffee maker: glass and thermal carafes.
Thermal carafes are usually made of stainless steel. They often have a double-walled design for better insulation. Such carafes have a ton of advantages, including the following:
- warm coffee for longer;
- lower chances of a burnt flavor due to the absence of a hot plate;
- longer lifespan since they don’t break that easily;
- better coffee flavor thanks to a delayed oxidization process;
- sleek, modern appearance.
As you can see, stainless steel carafes offer many benefits to users. If you are impressed by this material, you can check some of the best thermal carafe coffee makers here.
But this material isn’t perfect. Thermal carafes are heavier and bulkier, which oftentimes makes pouring quite inconvenient. They don’t let you see how much coffee you have left, and that can be really irritating. Additionally, coffee makers with thermal carafes tend to be more expensive.
Now, as for glass carafes, they also have a lot to offer. Typically, you can find them when shopping for good coffee makers under $50. Glass carafes are popular due to many reasons:
- they are cheaper than thermal carafes and can be perfect for users on a budget;
- they look fancier and can help you spruce up your kitchen;
- they allow you to see exactly how much coffee you have.
At the same time, glass is a fragile material, which means your carafe would be more prone to breaking than a stainless steel one. Plus, glass carafes usually stand on a hot plate, which is supposed to help keep your coffee warm. But the thing is, if you let it stand there for too long, your coffee may acquire a burnt or bitter taste.
“While a carafe is designed to keep your coffee warm, it’s important to consider that its material can actually influence the flavor of your beverage, not only its temperature. For example, it’s advised to avoid plastic carafes, as they can give your coffee an unpleasant plastic taste.”
How much coffee for a 4-cup coffee maker?
It is recommended to use 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee per cup (or per 6 oz. of water).
How many watts does a 4-cup coffee maker use?
On average, 400-600 watts. More powerful models can use around 800-1,200 watts.
- Counter Clutter YouTube channel (2019, July 1). Mr. Coffee 4 Cup Coffee Maker Demonstration. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55wD2iWV5ZA
- Taylor Martin (2015, December 08). Paper filter vs. metal filter: Which makes the best cup of coffee? Retrieved from https://www.cnet.com/how-to/paper-filter-vs-metal-filter-what-makes-the-best-cup-of-coffee/
- Maya Wei-Haas (2018, September 13). Why ‘BPA Free’ May Not Mean a Plastic Product Is Safe. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2018/09/news-BPA-free-plastic-safety-chemicals-health/
My name is Yurii Brown. I am a passionate coffee geek and, concurrently, a certified coffee specialist.
I’ve been learning about coffee for a long time, testing various devices and practicing in home coffee brewing. I like to share my experience and insights with fellow coffee lovers so that my readers could enjoy the real taste of quality-brewed beverages.