Firstly, you need to download this zip file and listen to the episode of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour on the subject of coffee - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/22454607/TTRH%20Season%201%20-%2005%20-%20Coffee.zip
This will help you get into the right frame of mind.
I never really liked the flavour of coffee until about eight years ago when I tried a overly milky latte made with Monmouth coffee. It was pretty good, mainly because there was so much milk, the bitterness of the espresso was drowned in the creamy sweetness.
Where I work now sells Monmouth coffee and last Wednesday I went to Monmouth HQ to have barista training. Three and a half hours of intense teaching has given me the ability to produce a seriously good espresso.
Probably the most important aspect of the whole process is to grind the beans to the correct consistency, too course and the coffee will taste acidic and sharp, too fine and the coffee will taste bitter and burnt. When the grind is correct the coffee will be sweet and smooth. If you don't get the exact grind, you will never make a great espresso.
The second most important part is to stretch the milk correctly and get the bubbles to the perfect size. Always use full fat milk and never serve a coffee in a cup bigger than 8oz (I've heard Starbucks now sell a coffee larger the human stomach).
There are so many aspects to making good espresso I can't mention all of them, but the details are immense. For example the water should be exactly 91 degrees when passing through the coffee. But once you master the two points I've highlighted, grind and milk, you're on the road to making great stuff.
I was given a stove-top espresso pot for my birthday, but unfortunately it's impossible to produce a great coffee from these devices. You might as well use instant coffee and fuck off.