In today’s New York Times, Michelle Slatalla writes a first-hand account of how she was ready to buy another espresso machine for her home: Establishing Some Ground Rules.

She encountered confusing options and poor machine choices at the usual suspects. Echoing how many of America’s best restaurants are generally ignorant when it comes to good espresso, gourmet stores, such as Williams-Sonoma, don’t even have the first clue about what constitutes a high quality (and not just convenient) espresso machine. None of the lines they have ever carried were something I’d buy for my own home.

Then she discovered the collective wisdom in Mark Prince’s excellent CoffeeGeek.com (home to some of my own equipment reviews). She even wrote to Mark to get a bit of the story behind the site — and some of his recommendations for home espresso preparation.

One of Mark’s best bits of advice?: a solid grinder is often more important than the quality of your espresso machine. This is where many of the superautomatic machines for the home often fail to deliver. Not everyone needs a Mazzer Mini, but don’t go dropping hundreds on an espresso machine and leave the grinder as an afterthought. A grinder may not sound that important, but you could otherwise be driving your 500 Series BMW on the engine block of a Yugo.