Nobody needs a high-tech or high-design toaster, but if you've spent the money on making your kitchen beautiful, down to the appliances, a $10 Target toaster is going to stick out like a sore thumb. Technically all you really need is a stick, a fire and some bread to make toast (that's how the Egyptians, inventors of fluffy bread and then toast as we know it, did it). Many people don't even use a single use device like a toaster anymore, preferring instead a toaster oven. But even if we don't need these devices we're still amazed at designers' ability to make something as simple as toasting bread look like art. 1. Magimix by Robot-Coupe Vision Toaster ($249.95)
We'd love to have this bad boy on our counter. Just look at how gorgeous those sliced baguettes look between the four quartz heating elements, which give consistent heat throughout. The glass window design allows you to watch every second of toasting goodness, stopping the process when you see the toast hit your preferred level of doneness. It's also got special modes for rewarming, bagels (it only toasts one side, leaving the other chewy but warm) and defrosting. It also cleans easily, with a crumb tray and buttons to remove the glass panels. But it's still $250.
2. Breville Smart Toaster ($179.99)
This toaster is motorized, meaning it lowers the toast between the coils for you. This is supposed to be more gentle on the bread, though we've never come across a slice that couldn't take a little slinging into the toaster. It's also got an "auto lift and look" feature, kind of like peek-a-boo for your toast, that lifts it back out so you can check for doneness, and a "bit more" button that adds 30 seconds to the toasting time. We like the LED timer on the front. It's kind of like watching a download bar, except in reverse and for breakfast bread.
3. Alessi SG68 ($213.95)
This toaster would seem to put aesthetics over the actual toast making process, but it apparently makes excellent, if not perfectly even, browned bread. The toast slot is exceptionally long, which is good we guess if you want to toast most of a baguette in one piece. Garlic bread anyone? The glass piece on top is for warming things that can't fit or wouldn't do well inside the toaster. It's got the usual defrost, warm and reheat functions. If nothing else it's certainly pretty on the countertop.
4. Krups KH754 ($99.50)
Ooh, Shiny. That's our reaction every time we see this toaster and the Art collection it's a part of. But it's not just a pretty face, the KH754 also has 6 toasting settings, self centering slots, defrost mode, a toast lift and a bun warmer on top. We like the the wood grain bottom and handles.
5. Bugatti VOLO Toaster ($249.99)
The fastest street-legal toaster around. Well, we can't confirm it's the fastest toaster, but considering its maker we'd like to think so, and it certainly looks like it. Like the Breville Smart Toaster, this is a motorized machine. It also features a bun warmer on top and large slots for thick bread. Outside of that, however, it only has 4 preset options, which is ridiculous on a model of this price. It doesn't even have a peek-a-boo setting. If the Veyron is both substance and style, this is mostly the latter, and truly an indulgence.
And if none of these are the toasters of your dreams, perhaps you need the singing, shoe-toasting VillaWare V55201 Cindarella Toaster. Though our experience is that it decides to burst into song whenever it chooses, just like a Disney movie.