Can't believe I was in Victoria for three years and never posted here all that time. (Colin -- you might remember me from UVic.)
A few days back, my wife told me that she wanted to pick me up an espresso machine for my birthday, and figured it was worth spending the cash for a half-decent one since I'll be using it to make her steamed-milk drinks as well. She set the budget at $500, so I'm thinking a Gaggia Coffee and MDF grinder from WholeLatteLove might be a good bet.
I never would have arrived at that conclusion without the advice and pointers here at CoffeeCrew, so -- thanks! Pat yourselves on the back for saving one more quasi-neophyte from a potentially disasterous DeLonghi or Krups experience. =)