Some might find it strange
that my two favorite beverages are beer and coffee, but that's just the
way it is. And if you're going to do something, you have to do it
right within the limits of your budget! To me the perfect cuppa
involves everything but growing the beans myself. (Maybe some day,
but that part sounds like too much work!)
I start with green beans which are only about 40% of the price of a
pound of fine quality roasted beans. I use a fairly high-end home roaster
than can handle 9 oz of beans at a time. (Most low-end home roasters are
limited to about 3.5 oz.) The beans puff somewhat as they roast - sort of
like popcorn - so that the you end up with a considerable larger volume when it
comes out of the roaster. For optimum flavor use the roasted beans
from 24 hr to a week after emerging from the roaster.
Next you need a good quality burr grinder to get just the right grind.
A decent one will run between $120 to $375. Then of course a fine quality
espresso machine is a must. You can spend well over a thousand bucks
for a top notch fully automatic espresso rig. However, a quality
manual machine can be had for around $400.
There are many top notch resources on the internet. I've included some
of my favorite links below. Most of these are mail order outfits that also
offer extensive information.