What Is Chicory Coffee?

Chicory coffee is not real coffee, but a coffee substitute made from roasted, or baked, and finely ground chicory root. It is one of the most popular coffee substitutes, with nutritional value and benefits for health, and none of the side effects of actual coffee. Chicory coffee is good for anyone with digestive issues such as acid reflux, as well as cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, arrhythmia, extrasystoles and palpitations. Drinking chicory coffee has less of a stimulating effect on the nervous and cardiovascular systems, and is better for sleep problems, anxiety and depression.

What is chicory coffee?

Root chicory used to make coffee is related to chamomile, dandelion, sunflower, goldenrod, calendula or marigold, ragweed, artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke and lettuce.

Chicory coffee, also called chicory root coffee, is a coffee-like beverage or herbal coffee known as a coffee substitute. Chicory coffee is an alternative to coffee made from root chicory which is a variety of common chicory (scientific name: Cichorium intybus sativum). Root chicory is one of the many different types of chicory, essentially a lavender-blue flowering plant in the chicory family. It is both cultivated for its roots, and occurs naturally in the wild. In areas where it occurs naturally, root chicory is an invasive weed.

Chicory root coffee

How is chicory coffee made?

You can make chicory coffee from brewed, roasted and ground chicory root, and also mix chicory coffee with regular coffee from coffee beans.

The taproots of root chicory plants are harvested, cleaned of dirt and smaller lateral root sprouts, and dried. The taproots may be processed into smaller pieces if needed, then roasted or, less commonly, baked, and ground into a fine medium to dark powder that looks like ground coffee. The root powder is then brewed in hot water to produce a coffee-like beverage with no caffeine.

There are actually different chicory coffee roast levels, similar to regular coffee made from coffee beans. Typically, chicory root coffee is available as dark roast and medium roast. Dark roast chicory coffee is stronger and full-bodied, while medium roast is milder and more herbal or earthy.

What does chicory coffee look like?

Chicory roots are white to cream carrot-shaped taproots that look like parsnip.

Chicory coffee looks just like regular coffee: a dark-colored brew with pleasant bitter and earthy flavor notes. Different roast levels, different brewing times and the ratio of chicory root powder to water can cause the color of the brew to range from pitch black to more of a brown-black to reddish brown. The ground chicory root itself is a dark brown to dark reddish brown powder.

Chicory coffee

What does chicory coffee taste like?

Lavender blue chicory flowers can be roasted and ground into the chicory root coffee for extra flavor.

The taste of chicory coffee is quite similar to that of regular coffee made from coffee beans, but not quite the same. Chicory coffee has a pleasant bitter taste with more pregnant earthy, even woody flavor notes. Depending on the roast levels, bitter cocoa, mocha, nutty, herbal flavors or a slight bite may also be present in the freshly brewed cup of chicory coffee. Dark roast chicory coffee is stronger and full-bodied, while medium roast is milder and more earthy in flavor, even herbal.

However, not all chicory coffee will taste the same. The exact content of aromatic oils and other flavor components differs from to root to root according to age of the plant at harvest time, growing conditions such as amount of rainfall, soil conditions, individual taste perception and other factors. Processing of the roots can also impact taste and flavor profile, and so can brewing time and technique. Additives such as dandelion root, sweeteners, flavors and more can also bring about differences in flavor profile.

Of course, coffee connoisseurs will be able to tell the difference between chicory root coffee and coffee beans coffee immediately, but if you don’t usually take your coffee black, then adding milk can make chicory coffee taste like the real thing.

Is chicory coffee stronger?

No, chicory coffee is not stronger than regular coffee. In fact, chicory coffee is milder than regular coffee which is why it’s a good alternative to it. It also has more earthy flavor notes which still keep it rich and coffee-like, but without the intense bitter aroma of coffee.

Types of chicory coffee

People have been drinking chicory coffee for a few centuries.

  1. Chicory root coffee made exclusively from chicory root, roasted and ground.
  2. Coffee and chicory root blend made from equal or varying amounts of roasted and ground coffee beans and chicory root
    For example, the New Orleans, Louisiana Café du Monde coffee with chicory.
  3. Decaffeinated coffee and chicory root blend made from decaf coffee and chicory root.
  4. Chicory herbal coffee which includes blends of chicory root with other coffee substitutes or alternatives such as dandelion root, ramon seeds, also known as breadnut seeds (Brosimum alicastrum), grains (rye, barley), sweeteners (sugar beets, other sweeteners), vitamins and minerals, additives (magnesium sulfate), various flavors (vanilla, chocolate, caramel).
    For example, Teeccino Chicory Herbal Coffee.
  5. Chicory root coffee substitutes such as Camp Coffee which is a sugar and water concentrated syrup with coffee and chicory root flavors from chicory root extract (25%) and coffee (<5%), or Ricoré which is an instant coffee product with 33.2% instant coffee, 63% chicory and magnesium sulfate.

Chicory root coffee tips

  • Adjust your brewing time and water-to-chicory root ratio until you find the right taste intensity for you.
  • Change up the brand if you don’t quite like the taste. Some people find some brands of chicory root coffee taste burnt, foul even which might have to do with how the root is processed.
  • Go for medium roast if you want something milder tasting, more herbal than coffee. Conversely, go for dark roast chicory coffee if you want a more full bodied, stronger coffee taste.
  • Blend coffee and chicory root for a richer taste.
  • Make it with milk (café au lait). For a richer taste and smoother mouthfeel, choose dairy milk with 3.8% to 4.1% fat content.

This post was updated on Sunday / February 21st, 2021 at 8:48 PM