Sometimes there’s nothing better than waking up to the smell of fresh coffee, is there? That aroma that gives the day a kick-start, with a promise of a lively day to come; there’s nothing better.
There’s quite a variety of coffee makers: the French Press (known as the cafetiere in the UK); the drip (also known as the percolator); the cold brew; and a wide array of concoctions that produce coffee in clever and creative ways.
For this article, we’ll be focusing on the drip machine, the French Press and the stovetop percolator, which, in our opinion, create the best-tasting coffee.
The best 4-cup coffee maker needs to do a number of things; but the most important, of course, is being able to produce a delicious, piping-hot cup of coffee.
We think that these are the best 4-cup coffee makers
A buyer’s guide
When looking for a coffee maker, there are some factors to take into account, and understanding the difference between the coffee produced by the different methods is essential –
The cold-brew coffee maker
The cold-brew process creates a chocolatey, smooth, cold coffee, perfect for coffee mocktails, espresso martinis, or for baking. Cold-brewing creates a low-acid drink, with a higher caffeine content.
Cold brewing takes longer than hot brewing – anywhere between three and twenty-four hours!
The Drip Method
The Drip method is an umbrella term that goes under different names: “filter coffee” and “percolator coffee” being the most common. Drip coffee is the most popular method for creating the perfect brew in the USA.
Drip coffee brewing involves pouring hot water over ready-ground coffee which is filtered with a paper (or mesh) filter. The brew is clear and clean tasting, with no grounds remaining in the liquid.
The electric drip-coffee maker usually contains a reservoir of water that you fill manually. The machine heats the water and drips drops of boiling water through ground coffee.
Electric coffee makers are great for making larger quantities of coffee and keeping the coffee warm after brewing.
Some electric coffee makers use a paper filter. Some people believe that the paper leaves an unpleasant taste (although this is a rare complaint). Many electric coffee makers have plastic or mesh filter buckets which don’t require paper filters, so if you have an aversion to paper filters, look for a machine that has a removable, cleanable filter.
The French Press (aka Press Pot, or Cafetiere) requires a coarsely-ground coffee. The press consists of a glass (or metal) chamber, and a separate, usually removable plunger (or “press”).
You fill the chamber with scoops of ground coffee, pour on hot water from a kettle, and then leave it to brew for around five minutes; depending on how strong you want your coffee. To stop the brewing process, you physically press the filter down, through the water to separate the grounds from the coffee drink.
The drink is medium-bodied and strong, with an intense aroma and flavor. French pressing is a little more time-consuming, but produces a lovely, strong cup.
The stovetop percolator is a drip coffee maker that produces coffee under pressure, creating a beautiful crema.
The stovetop percolator is suitable for smaller quantities of coffee – where the manufacturer states that it’s a 4-cup model, bear in mind that it’s referring to 4 espressos (small coffees). If you want a larger cup, you’ll need to opt for a stovetop percolator with a more substantial capacity.
The stovetop percolator works by heating a reservoir of water at the bottom of the maker, which boils and creates internal pressure. This pressure forces the hot water and steam through your coffee grounds.
Stovetop percolators are manual, so you’ll need to keep an eye on your maker to prevent burning your coffee. They don’t keep your coffee warm after brewing.
Some coffee tips
Used coffee grounds are great for the garden, so never throw them away if you can avoid it. Sprinkling coffee grounds around the base of your plants adds nutrition to the soil and repels slugs, as they hate the texture of the wet (and dry) grounds.
Fresh coffee comes in a variety of different forms – ground coffee is ready to go, while coffee beans require grinding.
Real coffee connoisseurs enjoy roasting their own raw beans – check out this article for the best coffee roasters.
These are our recommendations for the best 4-cup coffee makers.
1. Pour Over Coffee Maker By Coffee Bear - Stainless Steel Filter - Borosilicate Glass - 20 Ounce Hand Coffee Dripper
The Coffee Panda Pour Over coffee maker is a drip method brewer, producing four cups of deliciously aromatic coffee in a product that wouldn’t look out of place in the science lab. Having no electrical parts, this pour over maker requires water boiled in the kettle – this means that the coffee will never be burnt.
This coffee maker comes with a 30ml, stainless steel coffee scoop to help you measure the right amount of coffee for your preferred strength. We love Columbian coffee made through this machine – totally dreamy.
This pour-over coffee maker is entirely manual, requiring no electricity and is 100% paperless, incorporating a stainless steel mesh filter. The mesh extracts even the finest grounds from the resultant brew, making the drink crystal clear and smooth.
The glass chamber is made from high-quality borosilicate glass, providing elegant, ergonomic curves that will be an attractive and interesting addition to the kitchen top.
The heat-resistant, silicon collar ensures that you keep your fingers clear of the hot glass carafe. The BFA-free collar is easy to grip. The set comes with a silicone, non-slip base to protect your tabletops from heat burns.
The Coffee Panda Pour Over Coffee Machine comes with a money-back guarantee – they’ll refund your money in full if you’re not satisfied.
Manual operation from start to finish
Brews cleaner, more flavorful coffee
BPA-free, silicon collar to prevent burns
Comes with a stainless steel coffee scoop and a silicon base
Home Barista’s Guide To Manual Brewing (an ebook), included with each purchase
Has no facility for keeping coffee warm after brewing
This plug-in coffee percolator comes in 4-cup, 8-cup and 12-cup models. The sleek, stainless steel percolator has stylish looks and makes great-tasting coffee.
The stainless steel body is durable and helps maintain a consistent brew speed (at 1 cup per minute). Once your coffee has brewed, the “keep warm” feature maintains the temperature of the remaining coffee just right for that second cup.
The lid knob and the handle are cool-touch for safe operation.
This percolator works by bubbling boiling water through a pump tube (in a similar way to the stovetop percolator) which, in turn, drips through your fresh coffee grounds.
The unit comings with a removable pump tube for easy cleaning, a base, a spreader, a lid and a detachable power cord. The no-drip spout ensures that your freshly brewed coffee ends up in your cup, not all over your table!
The coffee maker is 8.8in tall, with a 5.3in diameter base.
Detachable power cord for easy-access pouring
Non-drip spout ensures your coffee ends up in your cup
Stainless steel body with cool-touch handle and lid-knob
Brews at 1 cup per minute
Automatically clicks into “keep warm” mode after brewing
Farberware is a company with a reputation for quality. However, the outer screws around the detachable power lead socket are prone to rust. This doesn’t affect the operation of the unit but looks a little unsightly.
This 4-cup coffee maker has a digital Delay Brew timer which allows you to set everything up before you go to bed so that you can wake up to a freshly brewed pot of coffee first thing in the morning.
The Mr. Coffee company has been making great coffee and coffee machines since 1970, so they certainly know how to make a delicious cup of Joe.
This unit is capable of producing up to 4-cups of coffee – but at the same time, it’s possible to make just one: use fewer coffee grounds and just a cup of water.
Some percolators can take a little practice to get right. Check out this guide to making the perfect percolator coffee.
Delay Brew timer, allows you to set everything up at night, and wake up to freshly brewed coffee
The Primula Stainless Steel stovetop espresso maker is made of 18/10 stainless steel and is suitable for use on both electric and gas stovetops. The stylish stainless steel body makes this a beautiful addition to the kitchen; for those of us who prefer the less “automatic” method of making our cup of Joe.
This percolator comes in a 4-cup size and a 6-cup capacity. The stovetop coffee maker is the traditional Italian method of brewing espresso, so if authenticity is your thing, this could be the right choice for you. Take your brew out on the road with you with an insulated tumbler that will keep your coffee hot for hours.
The entire pot is entirely dishwasher safe which makes for the most straightforward cleaning method possible.
The body has a beautiful shine, while the stay-cool handle will prevent you from burning your hands. Nonetheless, it’s often recommended to use a glove when handling, as it is possible for the handle to get hot while heating.
The stovetop brewer is known for enhancing the sensory qualities of coffee – producing a rich aroma and a smooth brew with a crema without burning the grounds. You fill the base with water, and the upper basket with your favorite coffee. The stovetop heats the base-water and pushes hot water and steam into the coffee grounds, which creates a genuinely aromatic brew.
Beautiful, sleek, stainless steel body
Over-sized stay-cool handle
Completely dishwasher safe
Comes in 4-cup and 6-cup models
As this is an espresso maker, the cup portions are small. You’ll get 4 decent espresso cups out of this machine, but you might need to go for the 6-cup model if you prefer larger cups. This type of coffee maker doesn’t keep the coffee warm after brewing.
Bodum is a name associated with quality kitchenware and beautiful design, so we were really pleased to see that they’ve created a really funky, French-Press coffee maker with a sleek, rounded body.
As with all French Press makers, you add hot water and let your coarse coffee grinds brew, before pushing down on the press.
The insulated coffee chamber is built from double-walled stainless steel and will keep your coffee hot for up to two hours. So, if you enjoy a couple of cups first thing in the morning, this could certainly be the coffee maker for you. And because the grinds are separated at the bottom of the liquid, the coffee will not continue to brew, even if left for a second cup.
The 3-part plunger is made of stainless steel, with a mesh filter which successfully extracts the coffee’s essential aromatic oils and flavors – a paper filter drip machine can absorb some of those oils.
The lid is Bodum’s patented safety lid, which prevents spillages. The entire body of the coffee maker and the plunger unit is completely dishwasher-safe.
The total capacity of this coffee maker is 31 ounces, which is actually enough for 8 small cups, or 4 large cups.
Completely dishwasher safe
No need for paper filters
Comes in various sizes
The plunger has a stainless steel mesh and a silicone band to prevent scratching
French presses can spray hot coffee everywhere if you press the plunger down too hard and too quickly. A smooth, slow press is required.
So, which is the best 4-cup coffee maker?
I think it really depends on your preference, but for us, we found the Bodum Columbia Thermal French Press Coffee Maker makes a great brew every time, without burning the grounds or over-brewing. The thermal walls keep the coffee warm, and the entire unit is entirely dishwasher safe.
If you’re looking for a simple coffee maker, then you can’t go wrong with the Bodum Columbia Thermal French Press Coffee Maker for 4 cups of steaming coffee that will get your day starting the most pleasant way!