All true, but let's be honest: Starbucks is, or at least was until recently when they abandoned true espresso machines in favor of "automatics", closely modeled after the traditional Italian espresso bar, right down to the sandwiches and little cakes displayed behind glass. What is very non-Italian, and also very American, is the idea of reproducing the espresso bar experience in one's home, with espresso machines and grinders that at their most elaborate (and expensive), are not far removed from their commercial cousins.A Moka pot is not espresso, simple as that It's not just about the crema. At 9-14 bar of pressure, there is a whole new world of oils and flavours extracted from the coffee that result in the distinct espresso. The Moka reaches only 2-3 bars roughly. Still sufficient to give it a different taste profile than normal filter.
I do love my Moka - it's our go-to at home. (And so it is for the majority of Italians. There's a reason there's only one (!) Starbucks in the entire of Italy).
You're on your way. The learning curve is steep and rewarding!
My personal opinion: don't waste time on gimmicks like coffee distributors or calibrated tampers. They seem helpful at first but tend to conceil bad technique in the long run.
Get a tamper with a nice handle if you don't have one yet (a Motta for example). 10-15 kg on the tamper is sufficient, just a bit more than the weight of your arm. Maybe measure it once with a scale to get a feel of it. Consistency is more important than the actual weight!
The irony there is that espresso was invented as a method for restaurants to quickly produce demi-tasse cups of freshly-brewed coffee. Hence its name. The moka pot, which I too used for years, is much more of a home kitchen implement.