Chicory is a herb that is caffeine-free and is a popular substitute for coffee. Chicory is most known in chicory coffee or New Orleans coffee recipes. It is the most loved substitute for coffee because of its rich and dark flavor. If you want to lower caffeine intake with a coffeelike taste, go for the chicory coffee. It tastes just like regular coffee, and because it has zero percent caffeine, it can lead to a healthy and natural lifestyle.
Some Fun Facts of Chicory Coffee
- Origin – Native in Western Asia, Europe, and Northern Africa. Introduced to North America around the 1700s.
- Alternate Names – Chicorie, Chikory, or Chickory. Sometimes called New Orleans Coffee.
- Caffeine – Chicory is naturally free from caffeine unless it is mixed with coffee.
What is Chicory?
Chicory coffee is made with a similar process like coffee, roast, grind, and brew, but with a chicory root instead of coffee beans. Chicory is obtained from the chicory plant (Also known as Cichorium intybus), a hard perennial having a flower of purplish-blue color. The flowers open and close each day at the same time. They are common and easily found in Europe and North America. Some other chicory names are curly endive, chicory root, and succory. Leaves and flowers from chicory are used as ingredients in food, but the chicory root is the main ingredient that helps to make “Chicory coffee.”
The plant of chicory is actually quite versatile. The leaves and flowers are used in flavored vinegar and salads. Some people around the world use chicory plants components to make healing tonics.
The root of the chicory plant is thick, long, and single (also known as a taproot). It is the root used to make chicory coffee by roasting and then brewing. You can boil it like a vegetable to eat.
Some Benefits of Drinking Chicory Coffee
Zero Caffeine – If you suffer from excessive caffeine intake, consuming chicory coffee can be really useful to eliminate caffeine completely. If you want, you can mix regular and chicory coffees together to lower the amount of caffeine.
Inulin – Chicory is known to have a great source of inulin. Chicory is a prebiotic fiber that helps with good gut health and weight loss. During the roasting process, the inulin in the roots converts into sugar, which counters the bitterness of the drink. Remember, too much inulin can be harmful and can cause stomach pain.
Brain Health – Chicory also contains Vitamin B6 and Manganese that are linked to a healthy brain.
Uses of Chicory
Chicory has a very ancient history, and its records are one of the oldest. As we discussed, chicory is a native plant of Western Asia, Europe, and Northern Africa. And the cultivation of the plant is considered to be originated in Egypt. In France, around the 1800s, chicory was used as an ingredient or substitute for coffee.
Consumption of chicory is associated with cost-cutting and embargoes. The French were a major influence on New Orleans. Before Civil War, New Orleans was a major coffee consumer. Coffee importation was blocked to the New Orleans harbor in 1840. It made New Orleans use chicory instead of coffee.
Since then, chicory is popular in the country, and usually, it is referred to as chicory coffee instead of New Orleans coffee. Up to 30 percent of chicory roots are added into coffee by New Orleans vendors. No matter if they want low caffeine or no caffeine, chicory at least seems to be the addition or the substitute for coffee.
How To Drink Chicory Coffee?
Chicory roots are roasted and then cut up (some call it “ground” which is not correct). After these processes, they are ready to be brewed. You won’t have to use much of chicory while brewing or adding to coffee because it is highly water-soluble than coffee.
To make a regular chicory coffee, use 1/3 chicory and 2/3 of ground coffee. Brew as you always do, in a French press, drip coffee maker, or anything else you prefer.
If you want to enjoy pure chicory coffee, brew it with any method you are comfortable with. You can add flavors like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, or star anise for unique notes.
As we know, chicory is cheaper than regular coffee, it is good if you are low on budget. Just remember, not to over brew or overuse the chicory if you don’t want to ruin the taste. To start, you can use 1/2 teaspoon for each cup and adjust the amount as you get more familiar with the taste.
The Chicory roots are pulled out of the ground, then washed, dried for roasting, and then brewed or steeped. This is how chicory converted to an edible substance. Because of the roasting process chicory gets a roasted taste similar to coffee, and this taste is what made chicory more appealing as a coffee substitute.
Purchasing & Storing of Chicory
Locating fresh chicory roots can be a little challenging. You can try to find them at the farmer’s market. Online retailers or health food stores provide dried, ground, or roasted chicory. Approximately 10$ is the cost for 16 ounces of chicory bag.
Chicory blends and coffee are available at specialty stores, grocery stores, and online.
So, now you know enough about chicory coffee to decide if it’s for you or not. If still, you are not sure about chicory, you can try it yourself. It is a lifesaver for people who are looking to lower their caffeine intake.
Chicory is an incredible substitute for coffee, especially with its health benefits. It is cheaper and easy to use.