You don't need a fancy coffee maker with all the bells and whistles to enjoy great coffee. You don't need a fancy espresso machine or any of the hundreds of gadgets that "produce great coffee". All you need to make better coffee at home is your very own grinder. This little gadget alone will increase the quality of your coffee tenfold.
The importance of grinding your coffee fresh is that once the coffee beans are ground, they have more surface area exposed to air. Just like almost everything we consume, air is the enemy. The longer the coffee is ground, the more stale it gets and the more flavor it loses. Ideally, you should grind your coffee fresh before every pot to experience the best possible cup. However, you need to make sure you have the correct piece of equipment as well.
Not all grinders are created equal. Specifically, you are going to need to a burr grinder. The burrs are the grinding mechanisms inside your grinder and they act as a crusher by grinding against each other. Burr grinders can be manual, where you are turning the crank yourself or electric so that you are just pushing a button. The crushing motion is important because you end up with a more uniform grind and the quality of the coffee is not compromised. When using a blade grinder, the blades are chopping the coffee and it is very hard to get any uniformity in the grounds themselves. Also, the blade can actually heat up the grounds from the friction and scorch the coffee, therefore, actually changing the flavor and possibly adding an acrid or burnt component to your coffee that the roaster did not intend to be there.
Most quality coffee roasters take pride in extracting the best out of each coffee bean, much like a quality winemaker is doing with each grape varietal. The integrity of the coffee is as important to the creator as a priceless piece of art is to an artist. Essentially a coffee roaster is an artist, so respecting their piece of art by treating it properly is the same as not touching the Mona Lisa when you see it in person. Ok, that might be a bit dramatic, but hopefully you get my point. There is no substitute for freshly ground coffee and if you love your cup of morning joe the way I do, why not make it the best darn cup of coffee you possibly can.