Where to buy

Major brands, like Krups and Cuisinart, can be found in kitchenware retailers and department stores, where prices vary. Both of the programmable models we tested, the Krups XP4050 ($250) and the Cuisinart EM-200 ($400), have more-manual counterparts (Krups XP4030 and Cuisinart EM-100) that each sell for at least $100 less.

The Francis Francis X6 goes for about $499 at various online retailers such as Amazon.com. The similar Francis Francis X5 ($649 on Amazon.com) is discounted to $150 on www.Illy.com with a required purchase of four cans of Illy coffee pods for 12 months (that's $600 for a year of coffee).

Italian machines like the Rancilio Silvia and the Le'Lit and Vibiemme are available through online coffee equipment retailers, such as www.1st-Line.com, which also offers free shipping.

- Craig LaBan