Howdy Sinx, and welcome to the wonderful world of espresso at home. Mistresses usually are pretty harsh so one should expect a few lessons from them. ;D
I think you will find that your key to great coffee will be two-fold. A good grinder, and home roasting. Or at least a supply of fresh roasted beans. :D
A good tamper is a definate plus that helps greatly with consistancy.
Hang in there and learn from your Mistress and you will be richly rewarded. :D :D
Java "Still grumbling about water" phile