A recent NY Times article discuses the importance of a good coffee grinder (registration required.) And it’s true — you won’t get good espresso without a good grinder.
At this point I couldn’t tell you how many grinders I’ve been through. Most of them were terrible. But when I first got a Rocky Rancilio grinder, I was amazed at how much better my espresso tasted. With a better grinder, I was finally able to adjust the grind to level of perfection that otherwise would have been impossible.
Sound crazy? It’s not. Cheaper grinders hide — and in some cases destroy — the flavor of the coffee. In addition, semi-commercial and commercial grinders let you set the grind to perfectly match your espresso machine’s needs.
See my page on buying a coffee grinder for more info.