I wrote the first version of my espresso machine project in MPLAB for a PIC. I lost many hours just getting a power supply setup and subsequently frying parts and getting confused when I powered them wrong, or had mistakes in wiring. I suppose I don't have to call those hours "lost," but after spending 3 hours debugging code to realize that I've made a wiring mistake is pretty freaking frustrating.
I am starting a new revision of my machine mod. I am planning to add a realtime clock, water level sensor, and improved interface. On a tip from my friend Casey, I checked out Arduino as a base for this second revision. Arduino has been developed particularly to bring electronics to first time users and has been adopted by artists, musicians, and designers all over the world. For me, its just a huge relief, and has brought a much higher fun ratio to my espresso hobby. My three favorite aspects of using arduino are that i can work in OS X, it uses a USB bootloader, and other people might be able to use my software and hardware designs for their own purposes. Its already catching on, but I expect that Arduino (and wiring) will continue to gain in popularity.
Learn lots more about arduino here: http://www.arduino.cc/