I got my espresso machine about 1 year ago.
Instead of getting the grinder first, I got my espresso machine first. The reason I wanted to get an espresso machine is of course so that I can make espressos and espresso based drinks. Cappuccino, latte, mocha, afogato and etc are all espresso based. And I can assure you that you cannot make espresso without an espresso machine.
The cost of the espresso machine + grinder = RM 2000 + RM 2000. And I cannot afford RM 4000 at that time. But if I got myself the RM300+ grinder, I cannot really make espresso. (Actually the RM300+ grinder can make espresso, but it is notoriously difficult and messy. I’ve borrowed one from a friend and it frustrate the hell out of me). But what I really wanted to make espresso and cappuccino. Can you see my problem.
Alas, I got my espresso machine first from Etc-concept. Then I get my fresh coffee from my friend Danny at Dankoff. I will have the coffee grounded there and put it is Lock&Lock air-tight container. I normally spend RM16 for a week of coffee.
Here are the facts:-
1. Whatever they tell you about the air-tightness of Lock&Lock, they will not prevent the coffee from deterioration (but they work great for storing fruits, snacks etc).
2. Forget about drinking espresso unless you have the coffee freshly grounded and use immediately.
So, for the entire time, I only drink milk based drinks like cappuccino and I learn how to make microfoam, the stuff that makes all the difference in a cup of cappuccino.
Finally, it is time to move to the next level. I got my M5 grinder. It is one heck of a grinder. It cost me RM2000++ but it should last for 10 years. With the M5, it can grind for any brewing methods, from press to drip and it is excellent for espresso.
Now, my grinder is actually of a more superior quality than my espresso machine. While my espresso machine is an excellent home machine, the M5 is a commercial grade grinder. I got myself some very nice and fresh roasted beans from Dankoff, grind them with my excellent M5 and make excellent coffee with my Gaggia Baby D.
Next step, I can now offer barista service for small parties.