As someone who has participated in many different types of forums, first off let me apologize for what I imagine is a fairly typical first question. I've done a bit of reading though and I think my question is slightly different than what I've been able to find.
Quick background since I'm new here and its maybe pertinent:
30 year old, started drinking coffee quite young but didn't start thinking about it critically until I left home for college. Worked in restaurants constantly growing up, attended culinary school and graduated with a concentration food science. Got sick of restaurant life and started brewing beer which I've been doing for nearly 10 years. All of this is to say I'm generally a little more intense than the average when it comes to food & beverage.
Didn't really get the espresso bug until probably 5+ years ago. Had always thought it was "fine", but was much more into various brew methods like pour-over. What maybe be fall for espresso was some of the 'new' third wave very light roasted stuff, single-origin and such. Basically rather unusual. While I have learned to love good classic Italian style espresso, I'm most interested in the more crazy and interesting beans.
Well now I've decided to finally time to get my own setup. Narrowing down grinder right now and hoping to make a purchase within the next week (heavily leaning toward the Kinu M47). That means it time to start thinking about machines!
I clearly don't know that much yet, but I gather I may have different requirements than the typical brewer if I'm hoping to pull lighter roasted single origin coffees. Please guide me!
Budget hasn't been considered that much yet. I maybe do this sort of stuff different than most people. I like to learn and find out what it is I need, then find out if I can make it work financially. That said I don't (think) I need professional level equipment.
2 coffee drinkers in our house, I'll most likely have 1-2 shots a day while my partner MAY make herself one during the week, but will definitely be involved on the weeks.
She'd like the ability to steam milk, but its not necessary every time.
That was a lot of words, but hopefully it'll help you help me.
Thanks and looking forward to this!