The Search for Budget-friendly & the Best 4-cup Coffee Maker

crazy by Editorial Staff | Updated on February 19th, 2021

If you are on a tight budget yet you want no less than a freshly brewed coffee for your daily grind, this piece of article is for you. We’ve searched far and wide and narrowed down our quest for the best 4-cup coffee makers to date.

In our list are five 4-cup coffee makers that deliver quality at a price that will most likely fit into your budget. But if we are to choose the one that stands out the most, it’s pretty much an easy win.

4 cup coffee maker

Our best 4-cup coffee maker

Drum roll please… the winner is no other than the Zojirushi EC-DAC50 Zutto 4-Cup drip coffee maker. For its quality and value, this is where your money’s worth is held best. But then again, personal preferences may differ so we have included other options as well.

Things to know before purchasing

Before we dive deeper into the specific models of our choice, let’s discuss some of the things that should be considered before you decide. 

No, it does not make 4 cups of coffee

This may be funny, or even stupid, but a 4-cup coffee maker doesn not brew you 4 coffee cups. Manufacturers measure a cup of coffee to be able to fill about five to six ounces of liquid and that’s ⅔ of the usual measuring cup we have at home. With this in mind, a 4-cup coffee maker, therefore, serves 20-24 ounces of coffee. This is equivalent to three full measuring cups.

So in this context, a “cup” is relative. It may be a small cup for some, and a large mug for others. If you like your coffee in the size of a large mug, filling it twice with this brew may not be doable. But if with normal-sized mugs, two cups may be filled.

Consider the number of people who need their coffee in your household. If you need to brew for four people, an 8-cup coffee maker is the smarter choice.

Auto shut off and pre-programmed timers

Coffee machines differ in the depth of their automation and this may affect the price tag. Some models almost offer no automation that’s why they can price their machines for as low as possible. That’s alright if you’re willing to always ensure that it’s off when not in use, otherwise, it will stay on for as long as you leave it. On the other hand, for careless people like me, I opt for coffee machines that offer automatic shut off should I forget to do so. Depending on the model, the machines will automatically shut off within 30 to 60 minutes.

If you decide to get a coffee maker that has no auto shut off feature and you happen to leave it on, you will be welcomed with a burning smell and a carafe that is broken once you get home. So it is best to consider this.

A coffee maker that lacks automation will most probably not allow you to pre-program your brew time. If you have the luxury of time, this may not be much of an issue. But for those who find themselves dashing out of the door first thing in the morning, this feature may be an important consideration. Through this, you can pre-program for your brew to start at a pre-set time. Some people prefer setting the time to around the time they wake up so they can have a freshly brewed coffee immediately upon waking up. 

Brew pausing

Although five minutes of brewing may seem such a little time to wait, you will be surprised at how many people actually don’t have this amount of time given their hefty responsibilities day in and day out. 

The coffee machine manufacturers responded to this dilemma with a special feature. Some call it pause-brew, brew-pause, or pause-and-serve. This simply means that if by your judgement your coffee is ready for consumption, you can easily pause the brew by pulling out the vessel and pouring the brew into your cup. The machine will sense that the carafe is not in place and will consequently stop brewing. Once the carafe is back to its spot, the brew will continue.

Coffee filters

Some coffee machines come with their own permanent filter, while some require you to avail separate paper filters. Both come with a price. A permanent filter lets you save money in the long run, but effort goes into having to clean it regularly.

The best 4-cup coffee makers

Now it’s time to look into our best five.

Zojirushi EC-DAC50 Zutto

The Zojirushi EC-DAC50 Zutto is on top of the list for its appearance and special features that the other choices don’t have. The filter basket of this coffee machine lies in the carafe as opposed to the usual filter location on top. If you haven’t figured out yet, this is helpful because the filter basket stays with it when you pull the carafe out after brewing. This saves you from the messy coffee drips on your hot plate that occurs when the filter sits on top of the vessel.

To evenly distribute water over the coffee grounds after passing through a charcoal filter, the Zutto uses a star shaped opening rather than the usual shower head. The permanent filter lasts for a couple of years only, yet even so, this is a pretty decent longevity and replacements are not hard to look for.

When it comes to cleaning time, the water reservoir easily snaps out of the machine adding into the ease of the chore. Take note that it is best to wash the glass carafe by hand because they are delicate and might break if put in the dishwasher.

Now, let’s move the coffee it brews. We have the well-calibrated brewing temperature of 200-205F to thank for the magnificent coffee this machine makes. Also, it is pretty quick as it only takes five minutes to complete the brew with a #2 paper cone filter.

The exterior of Zutto is made of plastic, but actually feels solid and sturdy. It’s also aesthetically pleasing with its subtle curves and matte faux-metal letting it sit beautifully on your countertops. 

Of course, nothing comes without some cons. The Zutto lacks the automatic shut off, pause-brew, and programming features. To add to this, the handle also feels fragile which does not help when you’re reminded that inside the carafe is hot water. Some reviews also pointed out that they have experienced some cracking in the carafe. However, these reviews are from a long time ago and the company has switched to the use of thicker glass to solve the problem.

Cuisinart DCC-450BK

Among our best 4-cup coffee makers under $50 is the Cuisinart DCC-450BK. This coffee machine is made of stainless steel which looks great in the kitchen. Take note that despite the stainless steel material, it’s not thermal, so the use of a hot plate is still required.

The DCC-450 boasts of automatic shut off and pause-brew features. It powers down on its own after 30 minutes. It is compact so you will not need a huge space to lay this machine in. It has a shower head that evenly distributes water through the coffee grounds so ensure a nice cup of coffee. It is essentially safe to use because it is made up of BPA-free material.

On the other end of the spectrum, the design of the spout raises a little concern. It is quite difficult to pour out of it with zero drips and spills. Additionally, others find it difficult to fill the reservoir because of the lack of opening clearance. A good amount of cleaning is required as well since stainless steel tends to stain more than glass.

The Cuisinart does not come with a permanent filter, so you will have to purchase #2 cone filters. You may also consider buying separately if you’re all for cleaning it regularly. The machine is available in black or white with a generous three-year warranty.

Maxi-Matic Elite Gourmet Automatic Brew

The Elite Cuisine EHC-2022 MaxiMatic is undoubtedly the best brewer on the list. If you’ve noticed, cons of the previous coffee makers usually point to the spout causing spillage and mess, but you can trust Elite Cuisine in this department.

It has a semi-transparent water tank that gives you a clear visual field of your brew. This means that it’s easy to see the volume you’ve poured. The machine’s filter basket is easy to remove from its spot when it’s time for cleaning and is definitely safe to throw into the dishwasher. However, the machine does not offer a pause-brew feature, so you will have to wait until the brew is all done. To top that off, it has no programmable timer and automatic shut off as well. 

Once you purchase a MaxiMatic, it will come with a reusable filter that, unfortunately, easily stains. It technically induces no harm, but it may be displeasing to the eyes.

When durability comes into play, Elite Cuisine doesn’t stand out that much. It’s pretty decent, but the glass carafe is thin which may crack easily especially if exposed to cold water while it’s still hot from the brew. This is worth remembering.

  1. Mr. Coffee 5-Cup Programmable

Mr. Coffee 5-Cup Programmable

Don’t be deceived. It may have “5-cup” in its name, but the Mr. Coffee 5-cup Programmable machine comes in the similar size as the others in this article. With this coffee maker, you may pre-set the brewing at the time that you want given that it should be within the next 24 hours. This little device boasts of automatic shut off (60 minutes after the brewing starts), brew strength control, and pause-brew feature.

This machine has a bigger counterpart which is called Mr. Coffee’s 12-cup coffee maker which made it to our best coffee makers under $50 list.

The bottom of the machine is made of rubber so it’s basically anti-slip. The basket filter is removable which is great for it will take less effort when it’s time to clean the components. Mr. Coffee has a flat-bottomed filter basket so you need flat-bottomed paper filters in cup sizes of 4 to 6. It does not automatically come with a permanent filter, but you have an option to purchase one if you please.

A drawback is that this is made up of a good amount of plastic that it’s not hard to smell and taste when it’s new. You may want to brew water for a few times to lessen this problem. To clean it properly, it is best to utilize a water-vinegar solution and rinse by brewing plain water. This will eradicate any taste that may build up.

Since it’s not in any way connected to a satellite network, the machine’s clock may decrease in accuracy as time passes. Once it becomes 5 minutes late, it may be best to reset it.

Brentwood Appliances TS-213

If you’re the type of consumer that is attracted to extremely low-priced products that you can actually buy three of them at a price of another one of its kind, then the Brentwood Appliances TS-213 may be your cup of tea. 

There’s nothing that special about this coffee machine. It’s basic and easy to use, but lacks the special features the other machines carry. It has a one-button brewing system without automatic shut off, no programming, and no pause-brew feature. If all you care about is a good cup of Joe, you may settle for this. 

If you’re extremely tight on budget and can handle a strong plastic smell, purchasing this should be one of your considerations. This is a common option for students who have no extra bucks to shell out and it comes in black or white.

Last thoughts

Now that we have broken down five of our recommended 4-cup coffee makers, the decision is now solely yours to make. With our list, you can easily pinpoint what features you can compromise on and what features truly matter. At the end of the day, it is your coffee and it should be 100% your choice. If you’re having a challenging time choosing, don’t worry! Whichever machine you choose from the list will surely serve you a good and satisfying cup of coffee every morning. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using these links. Last update on 2023-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Disclosure: No compensation or free products were received in exchange for writing this review.


Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.