Espresso machines are not all created equally and neither are the brews that they produce. As I have previously mentioned the grind is the most important part of the coffee, it creates the foundation. Experts will tell you that they can produce a better espresso with a $200 grinder and a $50 espresso maker than with a blade grinder and a $1000 espresso machine.
There are two kinds of coffee grinders. The burr grinder and the blade grinder. The blade grinder is what people usually use to make percolated coffee and you can pick up one of these for as little as $30 at the grocery store. They simply use spinning blades to pulverize the coffee beans. This is fine for regular coffee but not nearly enough torture for a cup of espresso.
A burr grinder is more difficult to explain but simply uses crushing power and two pieces of moving burred metal metal to accomplish its feat. Burred metal pieces move against each other allowing the coffee beans to fall downward and be pulverized into smaller and smaller bits. The dust in the hopper is ground so finely that it is measured in microns. Prices of these grinders is all over the board but starts at around $100 for beginner model and goes up into the thousands for commercial varieties. Expect to pay a couple hundred dollars for a decent quality long lasting machine.
There are some hand crank varieties of burr grinders but if you like to have coffee in the morning I suggest staying away from these models. If you are a masochist and you like to work harder than need be go for it. You can even get camp varieties of these grinders.
If you are willing to make the investment in an espresso machine think long term and think durability. These should be quality long lasting pieces of equipment and should be treated accordingly. Do your research and think along the lines of a television purchase. A good quality machine could be with you for many more years to come and can lead to many a happy cup of coffee. A bad purchase will degrade quickly and leave you disappointed, out a couple hundred bucks, and stuck with regular old coffee.
There are lots of companies out there that make great products. Do your research and spend your hard earned money wisely.