How To Make Chicory Coffee (Or Tea)
You may have heard that chicory coffee is a poor man’s version of regular coffee, but that is not the case. This is one of the many coffee substitutes in the world. Due to its lack of caffeine and taste similar to that of real coffee, people often use it to reduce their caffeine intake.
You can find it as a delicacy in coffee shops around the world, but it is a special landmark of New Orleans. The best part is that you can try this delicious beverage at home. Let’s find out more about chicory root coffee and how to make it on your own.
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Luckily, you can make your own chicory coffee at home. Once you have the ground chicory root, you can brew it and serve it in various ways. But first, you need to gather all the necessities.
- Chicory roots
- Regular coffee (optional)
- Milk (optional)
- Chicory roots: Since there are different varieties of chicory plants, you can choose whichever you can get. Wild chicory grows freely in some parts of Canada, so search for a tall plant with a blue flower. If you can’t get wild chicory, you can also use a root of endive (also from the chicory family).
- Baking sheet or a shallow pan: You’ll need to roast the pieces of the root, just like with raw coffee beans.
- A burr grinder: You’ll need your chicory to be ground so you can make proper coffee. If you don’t have a grinder, you can manually try to turn the root into powder. For example, with mortar and pestle.
- Regular coffee (optional): If you want the addition of coffee to your chicory drink.
- Milk (optional): You will need milk if you want to make chicory café au lait (café latte), one of the famous variations of this coffee.
- Coffee machine: It can be any device that you use to brew your coffee, such as a French press, pour-over, espresso machine, or other.
You can choose between wild chicory and an endive that you can buy in a grocery store.
How To Make Chicory Coffee
Chicory coffee is one of the many beverages you can make at home. Now that you have all the ingredients, you can brew your own delicacy. Here is what you have to do.
1. Mince the roots.
The roots are sturdy, so you’ll need a sharp knife, especially since the pieces shouldn’t be longer than 1 inch. If you don’t cut them in the same size, there’s a chance that they will not roast evenly.
2. Roast the chicory pieces.
Arrange them on a shallow baking pan or a baking sheet and place them into the oven. Toast them at 175°C until their colour changes to golden brown. If you can sense a coffee-like smell, this means they are finished.
3. Grind the roots.
Place the roasted chicory roots into your burr grinder and grind them with the same coarseness as you grind your coffee beans. Ideally, it should be a fine grind if you’ll brew them in an espresso machine or a coarser grind if you have a French press, etc.
4. Mix chicory with ground coffee.
The ratio is up to you. If you want the taste of coffee without the caffeine stimulation, you can try with a 4:1 ratio of chicory to coffee. Sometimes a 2:3 chicory-to-coffee blend of is good if you want to gradually reduce your caffeine intake. If you want to spread out your coffee supply over a longer period, adding four-fifths of chicory would be enough. Alternatively, you don’t have to add coffee at all for a true chicory coffee.
5. Brew your coffee.
Use the chicory and coffee powder mix to make the coffee as you regularly would. All the other factors such as time or technique should be the same.
6. Add some foamed milk.
Now, add foamed milk on top of the drink. Sprinkle toppings, or flavourings to enhance the aroma and serve your chicory root coffee.
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What Does Chicory Coffee Taste Like?
If the roots are fresh and you roasted them and ground them correctly, your chicory root coffee should have a similar taste to regular coffee. Due to its ‘groundy’ taste, it is especially similar to Robusta. However, it has a sweeter aroma.
Famous food blogger Hank Shaw describes the chicory root coffee in his article:
Straight chicory coffee is some powerful stuff. It tastes like it is loaded with caffeine, but it isn’t. It looks like a motor oil, has that malty-chocolate aroma, a brighter acidity than coffee, and a flavour I really am having trouble describing other than “earthy.
The Origins of Chicory Coffee
If you are from New Orleans, you probably already know which coffee shops have the best chicory coffee. Burt Benrud, Vice President of the renowned Café du Monde, this city’s landmark, says about this coffee (1):
When you look at the coffee aisle, you’ll see that all chicory brands are limited to about three. They really all originate here from this city.
During the historical economic recessions, such as the American Civil War or the Great Depression, stocks of coffee were dwindling. Citizens of New Orleans, a city historically notable for its coffee shops, had to find suitable alternatives.
The chicory grounds tasted similar to regular coffee, and with the right brew, there was hardly any difference. Today, this coffee is part of the city’s tradition.
Health Benefits and Downsides of Chicory Coffee
First of all, chicory is caffeine-free. As such, if you need to limit your caffeine intake, it is a better coffee substitute than decaf. Other than this, this coffee may lower blood sugar and reduce inflammation. That’s because the root contains inulin, which manages blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Dr. David Perlmutter, a famous neurologist who researches the impact of nutrition on the brain (2), says:
Inulin [from chicory roots] represents an important source of fuel for our gut bacteria, allowing them to create life-sustaining chemicals like short-chain fatty acids that play so many important roles in keeping us healthy.
On the other hand, if you’re allergic to ragweed and birch pollen, you should avoid chicory. Chicory itself can cause some allergic reactions such as pain or swelling. Pregnant women shouldn’t consume it either because it can cause miscarriage or menstrual bleeding in some instances (3).
When you make your own chicory coffee, try to spice it up with some fine additions. If you know how to make a latte, you can also try out chicory café au late.
Since there is no difference between serving this coffee and regular coffee, you can experiment in similar ways. Who knows, maybe you end up loving chicory more than coffee itself.
Chicory can be added to coffee for various reasons. For example, if you want to reduce the caffeine intensity, add a distinctive flavour, or sometimes even stretch your coffee supply.
Chicory roots may lower blood sugar and reduce inflammation. The root contains inulin, which helps manage blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. The upper parts of chicory may treat heart failure, liver disorder, loss of appetite, constipation, etc. (4)
Despite their similar tastes, there are various differences between the two drinks. First of all, chicory is caffeine-free. It also alters the taste of regular coffee, giving it a sweeter flavour. The colour is also slightly different. Regular coffee is more light-brown, while chicory coffee is black.
Chicory makes coffee stronger in taste, but it doesn’t make it a better ”booster.” The addition of chicory gives coffee a more roasted flavour. Along with the dark colour, it may appear bitter. However, with the reduced amount of caffeine, this coffee has a weaker effect than the regular one.
- Smith, K. A. (2014, March 05). The History of the Chicory Coffee Mix That New Orleans Made Its Own. Retrieved June 12, 2019, from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/chicory-coffee-mix-new-orleans-made-own-comes-180949950/
- Perlmutter, D., MD. (2016, September 16). Health Benefits of Chicory Root. Retrieved July 4, 2019, from https://www.drperlmutter.com/health-benefits-chicory-root/
- Link, R. (2018, January 27). Chicory Coffee: A Healthy Alternative to Coffee? Retrieved June 12, 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chicory-coffee
- WebMD. (n.d.). Chicory: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. Retrieved June 12, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-92/chicory