Keep in mind that unless your environment is the same every time, you will get different results. Even with the same ingredients. (temperature!, volume, attitude, sanitation) If you can control these, you can consistently produce a great product every time. (I think) it's important to create a BASELINE cider and then branch out to different ingredients.
The best part of making hard cider (or fermenting ANYTHING) is the experimentation process. I've got my methods down so that I can produce a consistent cider with ingredients that I can readily find and I enjoy the hell out of it. I also make a LOT of 1 gallon batches to try new ingredients. This keeps me from having to choke down 5 gallons of something crappy.
You'll have to determine what sort of cider you like, that you can produce with your environment. I like primarily dry ciders, but sweeter ones are good for sipping late at night after dinner. A gallon of store bought juice, some brown sugar and a couple of weeks can produce that very easily. It's not fru-fru...but it's tasty