I’ve had a Cuisinart coffee maker for nearly two years now. It’s been a workhorse for me in that time. Until this past summer I used it daily but rarely made small pots of coffee with it.
On occasion I did make small batches of coffee but never less than four cups. For those few times I made small pots of coffee I always pressed the 1-4 button because the coffee maker instructions told me to do so but I didn’t really know why I was doing it.
After doing a little coffee research over the past few months I’ve come to learn why the button is there and how exactly it helps your coffee maker perform better during the brewing process.
First of all a drip coffee maker relays on a heat source to heat up the water to an ideal brewing temperature, preferably before dripping the water over the coffee grounds. The 1-4 button tells the coffee maker to slow down so as to ensure the water is fully heated before showering the coffee grind. The slower speed also helps ensure the coffee is not brewed to fast resulting in a weak cup.
For small batch of coffee (4 cups or less) the brew time is typically extended but not enough to really be very noticeable, a couple of extra minutes at best.
One other thing to keep in mind is that your coffee maker will brew better coffee no matter if you use the 1-4 button or not if you put hot water into the water reservoir before brewing. Even in the best coffee makers it’s difficult to bring cold water (or even tap) to 190 degrees. By pre-warming your water or running a water cycle only through the coffee maker first the brew will be at a much better temperature resulting in better taste.