When I first started thinking about upgrading from my Moka Express pot to a proper, if low-end, pump-driven espresso machine I was worried that the whole process would be complicated and take a long time. I'm very happy that I decided to go ahead with the upgrade. It isn't complicated at all, and it doesn't take a long time.
If you asked me a few weeks ago, I would have told you that the process takes about five minutes. Since then, though, I've timed the whole thing with a video camera. I didn't rush; I just went about my business just like I normally would. I wasn't that far off; it takes just over six minutes go from turning the machine on to being finished, cleaned up, and drinking my coffee.
I do things just a little bit differently...
Most people empty out the portafilter after they are finished pulling their espresso. I leave it in there and clean it out the next time I use the machine. This means I get to start drinking my latte sooner, and it also saves me a little bit of time, since I clean out the portafilter while waiting for the machine to heat up.
What I hope qualifies as a latte
I pull two shots of espresso, then I steam and foam about six ounces of milk until it almost doubles in volume. I combine them in a large mug, and I mix in four big old teaspoons of sugar.
I'm not certain that this officially qualifies as a latte. With this volume of foam it probably ends up somewhere in between a cappuccino and a latte. I don't really care what it actually is; I just know that it tastes quite good.
My cheap little espresso machine
I don't have a fancy, high-end machine. I have one of the least expensive pump-driven espresso machines you can find. It is a Mr. Coffee EMC50. I'm told that these cheaper machines with "pressurized portafilters" make it easy to "consistently pull mediocre shots of espresso." I've never used a high-end espresso machine, so I'm not really certain how much better the espresso they make can taste.
I do completely agree with the first part of that statement; almost every shot I pull tastes equally good. For all I know, though, "good" is really "mediocre." This machine most definitely makes a better tasting, less bitter coffee than my old Moka Express pot.