If you want to make amazing coffee at home you can't just expect that boring drip coffee maker and that loud annoying blade grinder to get the job done for you, can you? Of course you can't! If you want to make the best coffee in your kitchen you need to have the right equipment - and that starts with a pretty simple education on what makes good coffee.
So What Makes Good Coffee?
Glad you asked - it's pretty simple actually. You need coffee grounds that are properly ground using a conical burr grinder. You also need a brew method that can offer you maximum extraction. What's maximum extraction, you ask? Basically, when the water runs through the coffee grounds it pulls (or extracts) delicious flavors out of the coffee bean - this is what you taste when you drink it. With the right equipment you can pull all sorts of obscure flavor notes from the bean, like vanilla, raspberry, even nutty flavors like almond. With the wrong equipment you'll extract caffeine and a bitter taste that demands to be covered up with cream and sugar. You don't want that.
Okay, So What D0 I Need Then?
1. Conical Burr Grinder
You need a conical burr grinder. This is the most important investment you will make in your home coffee setup. They aren't necessarily expensive, really you can spend whatever you want. I have friends who invested thousands of dollars in extreme pro-sumer equipment for amazing coffee (and obvious bragging rights).
On the other hand, there are people like me who use a $50 hand crank grinder and can produce incredible coffee with it. You can spend what you want - I like hand grinders, but if you want something more powerful, Baratza and Krups are great companies to shop from.
2. A Brewing Method That Suits You
You need to find a brewing method that you like. This takes some experimentation in my opinion - you won't necessarily know what provides the flavor profile and general taste that you want without trying a few. Lucky for you, most of the best methods of brewing coffee are not expensive to get started with. If I were starting all over today I would probably buy a pour over apparatus like the Hario v60 or the Chemex before anything else. You can get a v60 for about $20 (actually, it's a little less than that) and it's durable as well as very simple to get started using. The first time I ever made coffee with one I made an incredible cup of java - so if you're worried about having to learn new methods, have no fear, there are plenty of brewing devices that take very little time investment to have you making phenomenal tasting coffee.
Once you've tried something like the v60, I would say it is time to branch out to wilder and more experiment methods: try the Bodum french press as it is not only a traditional method of brewing in many countries, but will get you acclimated to 'full immersion brewing' which can offer flavor notes that pour over coffee and other methods really can't. French press is a great way to make coffee and lower end press pots only cost about $20. On the other hand, you can get a full sized 8 cup glass Bodum Chambord for about $50 - which is the one that I have. It's beautiful and it makes great coffee.
What more could you need? My final suggestion if you still aren't sure what type of brew method is right for you, is the Bialetti moka pot. My first moka pot cost me $30 and I use it almost every day. It is quite different from the french press and the pour over because it doesn't quite brew coffee - it brews what could almost be described as espresso (in fact many people refer to it as espresso), so the taste and general boldness is quite strong. You can use a moka pot espresso to make lattes, cappuccinos, and americanos if you are interested.
3. An Awesome Kettle
You need an awesome kettle so that you can heat your water. This is by far the least expensive gadget and the easiest to get your hands on, but if you want to make incredible coffee using highfalutin coffee gadgets you really can't do it without a kettle to heat water in. So go out and buy a kettle so that you can make coffee at home that tastes amazing and has a solid, well rounded extraction - it isn't difficult, the kettle I use is no big deal and didn't cost me more than $10, but without it I wouldn't be able to use any of my other coffee gadgets.
There you have it. Three simple coffee gadgets that will take your home coffee brewing skills to the next level. They aren't crazy expensive and they are all easy to learn how to use. If you have any confusion, just check out my coffee blog for tutorials and information on making great coffee at home.