Before getting started on your path to espresso perfection, you're going to need to decide what kind of espresso machine you want to buy.
How much should you spend?
Let's do the math. My wife and I typically have one latte a day, so at $3, that's $2,190 a year. I expect a quality espresso machine to last at least 10 years and probably more if it's properly maintained. I probably would have spent up to $2-3k if I thought the machine was worth it. I ended up spending about $1,200 for the espresso machine and grinder.
There are too many espresso machines to choose from and it's hard to figure out which is the best one. I stayed away from the pod only machines, since I wanted to have control over where I bought my coffee and what kind of coffee I wanted to use. For example the Nespresso machines don't have an option to buy a half decaf pod and each pod costs $.50. Most of these machines won't do much for steaming milk either. I don't like twist off beer caps or screw-off wine caps, so where's the art is throwing in a pod and pressing a button. Not for me thanks.
The best espresso machine for your money
Through my hours of research on forums, reviews, in store investigations, this is what I bought. RANCILIO SILVIA w/ COMPUTER TEMP (PID)
The Silvia is a great machine and the most popular. It's in the ~$600 price range without a temp. control modification. The temperature control is an custom modification to control the temperature of the water. Without the temp. control, the boiler can fluctuate ~40 degrees. You typically need to spend $2000+ for temperature control in an espresso machine, but you can get the Sylvia for less than half of that . You can also buy kits to do this yourself and there are a number of instructions on how to do this, just google Silvia PID
Now you'll need a grinder
I thought I could get away without buying a grinder, but I was wrong, very wrong. You'll need a burr grinder that you can adjust to match your coffee beans. I'll explain this more in the next step, but trust me, don't skimp on the grinder or you'll never be happy with your results.