The sight of chicory plants alone can make someone happy because of the pretty purplish-blue flowers alone. Though chicory doesn’t have caffeine in itself (more on that later), you can make coffee with chicory too. The result is a double dose of happiness.
Without further adieu, let’s get to know about this fantastic plant and how to make chicory coffee at home so you can enjoy it with your friends and family.
Chicory comes from the “Cichorium Intybus” plant, or the chicory plant. The flowers in this plant open and close at the same time of the day.
Each plant has one long and thick root, known as the taproot. The root of the plant is what’s used to make chicory.
The leaves and flowers of the plant are also used for cooking, salads, and flavored vinegar. You can even eat the root by boiling it like a vegetable. Some even use chicory as a healing tonic. So it’s safe to say that the plant’s pretty versatile.
France has been putting chicory in coffee since the 1700s. So when the French arrived in New Orleans, it didn’t take long for chicory to be popular there.
During the American Civil War, the port of New Orleans was completely cut off from the trade routes by union blockades, and the coffee supply got halted as well. Needless to say, people weren’t happy, and they rushed to find an alternative solution quickly.
To make the coffee supply last as long as possible, local residents started mixing chicory with coffee, so they had to use fewer coffee grounds. Though the kick of coffee wasn’t as much as they expected, it was still better than nothing.
Nowadays, the goal behind adding chicory is to tone down the bitterness of dark-roast coffee beans. However, many add-in chicories just to enhance the flavor of the coffee.
As we mentioned earlier, the chicory plant or the root doesn’t contain any caffeine. Therefore, if you make beverages out of chicory, they’ll be caffeine-free as well.
If you’re thinking of “chicory coffee,” it’s not a beverage made out of chicory only; instead, it’s a coffee beverage blended with roasted chicory.
According to a study from Food and Chemical Toxicology which was performed in 1988, it was found that chicory-blend coffee has only ⅓ the caffeine as instant coffee. Though the study was made on one blend, different blends can contain different chicory-to-coffee ratios.
Now that we know about the history, it’s time to gather the ingredients for this amazing coffee. Yes, you need more than just chicory roots and coffee.
- Chicory roots/ Endive roots
- Baking sheet or a shallow pan
- Burr Grinder/ Mortar and pestle
- Regular coffee
- Milk (optional)
- Any coffee maker of your choosing
- Stove/ Microwave
Now that the ingredients are at hand let’s go through the steps of a basic chicory coffee recipe.
Start by mincing the chicory roots. Note that the roots are very sturdy, so make sure your knife is sharp. Also, keep every piece around 1 inch. When you cut the roots in even size, they’ll roast quickly and evenly.
Now that you’ve cut the roots, it’s time to roast them. Place the roots on a baking pan or baking sheet for roasting. Toast the root pieces at 350 degrees if you’re using a microwave. If you can see a golden brown shade or feel the coffee-like smell, it’s time to take them off the heat.
Take the roasted roots, allow them to cool down, and grind them with either a burr grinder or a mortar and pestle if you want to get more involved with the process.
Grind the roots based on the coffee brewing method you will use. For example: If you’re using an Espresso maker, make it a fine grind. If you’re using a French press, go for a coarser grind. And that goes for the coffee grounds as well.
It’s time to mix the roasted chicory grounds with the ground coffee. If you want more of the coffee but not the rush that comes with it, go with a 4:1 chicory to coffee ratio. If you’re looking to reduce your caffeine intake, go with a 2:3 chicory-to-coffee ratio.
Now that everything’s ready, it’s time to brew the coffee. It’s just like brewing regular coffee after you add hot water, only with chicory root grounds in the mix, so there aren’t any exceptions.
Add any topping or flavorings you want for added charm. For example, if you like your coffee with milk, you can also add milk. Then, your roasted chicory coffee is ready.
The flavor profile of chicory coffee follows very closely to a cup of coffee made out of Robusta because of the earthy taste, but it’s much sweeter. The aroma has a flowery note from the essence of chicory flowers. Chicory coffee without additives tastes like black coffee with the essence of chicory.
Chicory comes with its fair share of benefits. Chicory can provide the same benefits whether you put it in your food or make beverages.
According to a paper published in August 2016 on Carbohydrate Polymers, chicory root is the richest source of a soluble fiber known as “inulin.” The functions of this fiber include:
- Acting as a prebiotic
- Boosting digestion
- Improving bowel movement
- Lowering blood pressure
- Lowering cholesterol
- Controlling blood sugar levels
- Modifying blood texture
Another study published in July 2015 in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine shows that chicory root can reduce the chances of type 2 diabetes by keeping blood sugar in control.
The experiment was a success, and the results showed that people who took chicory-infused supplements had better bowel function.
As a bonus, we all know that coffee can be a bit of a laxative. So mixing chicory with coffee can clear your stomach out faster.
According to a study in Phytotherapy research conducted in May 2011, the phenolic antioxidants found in chicory coffee can actively prevent inflammation.
The participants of this research drank 10 ounces of chicory coffee for a week, and they showed reduced blood and plasma viscosity levels.
Chicory coffee can also prevent free radicals from causing internal damage to major organs.
As we mentioned, chicory contains inulin. It can allow the healthy growth of gut bacteria and improve gut functions overall, as shown in research in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, published in August 2017.
Soluble fibers, when consumed, swell up in your stomach, causing you to feel more full than you are. This effect can cause you to lose appetite, leading to weight loss from lower calorie and fat intake.
Want to know a faster process for coffee production?
Read our instant coffee production process article.
A healthy adult can handle up to 20 grams of chicory in their system per day. However, when you go past the safe limit, you start to face several side effects, as the paper in the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Safety mentioned in December 2014.
These side effects include:
- Digestive stress
- Stomach cramping
Note that the tolerance level differs from one person to another, so there’s no sure way of saying if chicory is the only thing making you feel the effects.
According to a report in the Journal of Allergy, published in November 2015, chicory has birch-like compounds. So if you’re someone who is allergic to birch pollen, it’s best not to take chicory with food or drinks.
Chicory allergy symptoms include:
- Cavity issues
- Pain in throat and mouth
- Tingling sensation
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms after drinking chicory coffee, it’s time to put down the coffee and consult a doctor right away and skip chicory for your future coffee.
Unfortunately, there’s no confirmed study on the effects of chicory during pregnancy or the effects on breastfeeding people or babies.
We recommend skipping chicory overall during these times to ensure maximum safety.
Had Fun Reading this masterpiece? You will love to read our types of coffee beans article.
Even with its fair share of negatives, chicory can be an excellent addition to your morning and afternoon coffee. The added aroma, flavor, and health benefits are too good to give up. As long as you mind your safe limits, drink away!
No, chicory is naturally caffeine-free.
Taking too much chicory can cause several side effects. It’s also bad for you if you have a chicory allergy.
It’s best to limit chicory consumption to 20mg per day since there’s proof that a healthy adult body can handle that much.
Chicory is made out of the single, long, thick root under the plant, known as a “taproot.”
Since chicory gives the coffee an earthy taste, the coffee’s flavor profile almost resembles lightly roasted Robusta beans. But instead of the bitterness of Robusta flavor profile, it has a sweet taste and aroma.