Bring out your inner barista this Mother's Day, and skip those dull gifts of flowers, cards and balloons. They will all end up in the trash anyway.
Instead, offer mom a gift loaded with caffeine, topped with frothed milk and served in a dainty cup. This Sunday, make a classic cappuccino for Mother's Day.
We sought out the advice of Leticia Pollock, who owns Panther Coffee alongside husband, Joel, for insights on the very best homemade cappuccino. Leticia, a proud mom herself, spills some serious coffee know-how, and offers a step by step guide on making a homemade specialty drink, without any fancy equipment or a $500 espresso machine. All you'll need is $70 in basic tools, and Leticia's great advice.
To start preparing this early morning gift for mom, you'll need good, fresh coffee. Leticia recommends buying coffee every week or two, and only purchasing the amount you will realistically consume in that time period.
Store coffee in a cupboard at room temperature. Do not put your coffee in the refrigerator. Ever. Freezer? Forget about it. Even though you might think you're doing coffee a favor, refrigerators have high moisture levels which can impact coffee's freshness.
Then there's also the issue of unpleasant aromas mixing with your coffee. Coffee is so porous that it will surely absorb what's in your fridge. Got leftover paella or ceviche in the icebox? No one wants coffee with a side of paella in the morning. That's a prank, not a gift.
Next, invest in a coffee grinder. Pre-ground coffee lacks the strong aroma that gives freshly ground coffee that extra boost of flavor. Leticia prefers a burr grinder, versus a blade grinder, because burrs grind more evenly. Blades, on the other hand, leave you with uneven particles that extract coffee unevenly. So, invest in a burr grinder, it'll set you back about $30, but it'll change the way you feel about coffee from home forever. Seriously.
Then grind up the portion of coffee that you'll be making each morning.
Now, to make the best brew at home (without a fancy espresso machine), Leticia recommends using a moka pot. Known as a greca in many parts of Latin America, this nifty tool will give you the closest consistency and flavor of espresso, without the huge investment required of a pricey machine. She suggests buying a Bialetti Moka, which can set you back about $20 or $25.
Buy a milk frother. Something as simple as an Aerolatte To Go can do the trick, and it'll only be about $20.
After investing the total of $70 in equipment (grinder, moka pot and frother), you now are armed with the tools to make the very best homemade cappuccino. Sound pricey? Add up all the times you've gone to a mediocre coffee shop and paid $5 for a lackluster cappuccino... Get my point? Alright. Let's continue.
Now, to make the coffee...
1. Start off by separating the three pieces of the moka pot. Add room-temperature water to the bottom reservoir until it reaches the valve (the little screw-like looking thing on the side of the bottom piece) and place over medium heat, uncovered. Bring to a boil.
2. While the water is reaching a boil, lightly add the ground coffee to the filter and evenly distribute. Don't press too hard, or you can cause the coffee to burn before it extracts.
3. Once the water is boiling, carefully add the filter (with the coffee) to the bottom piece of the moka pot.
4. Next, using two kitchen clothes to prevent yourself from getting burned, close the moka top. Leave the top uncovered.
5. Place the moka pot back over medium heat until the coffee rises up and begins to foam. Immediately remove the pot from the heat. Close the top.
6. Utilizing a kitchen cloth to protect yourself again, hold the moka pot under cold water, particularly over the bottom of the pot. This will cool down the temperature of pot and prevent the coffee from burning.
And that's how to get perfectly brewed coffee at home.
Now, to finish off your classic cappuccino, select a coffee cup that can hold about 5 - 6 oz. of liquid. Fill the cup about halfway with hot water to keep warm while you froth the milk.
Froth the milk
To make the frothed milk, heat up milk in the microwave or over the stove top until steaming. Then, buzz away with your trusty Aerolatte or milk frother.
Next, assemble your components.
Remove the hot water from the coffee cup and add 2 oz of espresso to the cup.
Then, add about 2 oz of the steamed milk.
Followed by about 2 oz. of the frothed milk.
Serve the cappuccino immediately and, to truly enjoy the pure flavor of coffee, don't sprinkle cinnamon or chocolate. Instead, Leticia recommends serving mom her cappuccino with a few squares of Vosges Cherry Rooibos Bar.
As a side note, before you consider attempting to do crazy heart designs of latte art with your frothed milk, I've got some bad news. Although getting creative for mom might sound compelling, Leticia pointed out that microfoam (the ideal standard for steamed milk) is most successfully made with the steam wand of an espresso machine. Not with a standard milk frother. So, unless you're planning on investing the big bucks for a fancy machine, stick to the simple designs. Leave the art to Panther Coffee.
Cold brew from Panther Coffee
Oh, and in case your mother prefers a cold brew, Leticia suggests buying the Toddy Cold Brew System for $39.50. Use one pound of pre-ground Espresso blend or Brazilian single origin from Panther Coffee for the home version of a cold brew (grinding up a pound of coffee in a home grinder can definitely take a long time).
A perfect cappuccino, with an artful tulip, from Panther Coffee
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It might take some practice to perfect the craft of a classic cappuccino, and luckily you do have a couple of days to get it right. But, if you rather take mom out for a perfect cappuccino on Sunday, swing by Panther Coffee. They've mastered latte art and got tulips and hearts that come atop your cappuccino. Instead of ending up in the trash can, these gifts of coffee taste delicious, and give you and mom a great start for the rest of the special day.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.