Having a great coffee at home
Like most people, I like a lovely coffee at home before I go out and have another lovely coffee, made by a barista with immeasurably better honed skills. I talk to a lot of people about coffee and get a lot of questions about 'best coffee shops', 'best home coffee machines' and 'best coffee beans'. With both budget and coffee quality in mind, I would recommend a manual brewing method for home (filter, aeropress, chemex, cafetiere etc.) rather than an espresso machine. I think it's a lot harder to get a great cup of coffee out of a home espresso machine without considerable cost and training than manual brew methods. On that basis, here are the most important ways you can dramatically improve your home brew, in no particular order: Use great beans Get a burr grinder Weigh your ingredients.
Doing these things will make the taste, texture and aroma of your coffee so different to what you've had before, that it may well feel like a different drink. (Big call, I know, but bear with me) Additionally, because you can taste your coffee much more clearly i.e. you can taste separate flavour attributes rather than a general flat 'coffee flavour', it's much easier (and more fun) to try different beans. It's easier to work out which beans you love and those you can live without... and there's a never ending stream of new beans to try so you'll not tire of it.
A bit more information to back up my audacious claims... Use great coffee beans - Just like cooking, if you use excellent ingredients, you don't need to do much to them to create great tasting food. Buy your beans from a specialty roaster or coffee shop to suit your brew method (espresso, filter, aeropress etc). You can expect to pay between £6-11 for 250g and buying in larger quantities can be cheaper. Edinburgh has some great places to get beans. Ask the barista or roaster for brewing advice for the specific beans you buy - all tips are useful and they know their product better than anyone. Don't buy too many beans at once and keep them in an airtight container or in the bag they come in if it's re-sealable - this will stop them going stale quickly. (Don't put them in the freezer).
Other related topic: Looking for the best espresso machine