Dive in as we unmask the rich history and unique traits of Chicory Coffee—all the essentials, zero fluff. Let’s get started.
- History: Chicory coffee originated in ancient Egypt and became a go-to during coffee shortages in France and New Orleans.
- Flavor: It’s earthy and nutty, distinctly different from regular coffee.
- Health: Rich in inulin and contains some essential nutrients like manganese and vitamin B6.
- Caffeine-Free: It’s a natural option for those looking to cut caffeine.
What is Chicory Coffee?
Chicory coffee is a 50/50 blend of roasted chicory root and coffee. Originating in France, it gained popularity in the U.S., especially in New Orleans, as a cost-effective alternative to coffee. The chicory root adds a woody, nutty flavor, and is often used to stretch coffee supplies or replace coffee entirely.
Chicory root comes from the chicory plant, aka the endive lettuce plant, which is kind of like a dandelion with purple flowers. It tastes a lot like regular coffee, but without the caffeine. In the U.S., it’s pronounced “chik-uh-ree,” while the UK goes with “chico-ry.”
The History of Chicory Coffee
Chicory coffee’s history is not only rich but dates back to Ancient Egypt, where parts of the chicory plant were ground for medicinal use. The term “chicory” comes from the French word “cicoree.”
During the Napoleonic Wars, 19th-century France faced a coffee shortage, giving rise to the chicory-coffee blend. This taste trend soon hit Louisiana, likely a French colonial influence. Today, this blend isn’t just popular; it’s a cultural cornerstone in New Orleans.
Chicory coffee is also recognized for its health advantages. From having zero caffeine to being packed with antioxidants and potentially enhancing bone health, chicory coffee remains as popular as ever1,2.
Did You Know?
- Traditionally used in tea or as a remedy for ailments like jaundice and gout, chicory root found its way to America.
- New Orleans became a hub for chicory coffee, especially during the Civil War when chicory was added to coffee due to shipment blockades.
- Chicory root has often been used as a coffee substitute during shortages and in prisons.
- Today, chicory coffee, known locally as “chicory in a café au lait,” is a cherished tradition in New Orleans, found right in the coffee aisle of most groceries.
How is it made?
Chicory coffee is made by roasting, grinding, and brewing the roots of the chicory plant. The root of the chicory plant is dug up, cleaned, and dried. It can then be shredded, peeled, or cubed, and baked until it gets dry and golden. After that, you can leave it to cool before grinding it to coffee-ground texture12.
Brewing Chicory Coffee @ home
- Start with fresh chicory roots and coffee beans.
- Roast and grind them separately, then unite in a 1:1 ratio.
- Brew the blend your way: french Press, Drip coffee maker, or Aeropress.
- Want a twist? Sprinkle in spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.
Grab the Cafe’ du Monde: Coffee & Chicory blend. Brew it like you would regular coffee. You can find it at Cost Plus World Market and on Amazon.
Here are some variations to the classic Chicory coffee. For a twist on classic recipes like lattes, mochas, and caramel macchiatos, use chicory coffee concentrate instead of espresso.
- Chicory Latte: Chicory coffee concentrate, steamed milk, and honey.
- Chicory Mocha: Chicory coffee concentrate, steamed milk, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream.
- Chicory Iced Coffee: Chicory coffee, ice, milk, and vanilla.
- Chicory Caramel Macchiato: Chicory coffee concentrate, caramel sauce, steamed milk, and whipped cream.
Chicory Coffee vs. Regular Coffee
When it comes to comparing chicory coffee with regular coffee, the differences are more than just taste. Here’s a breakdown:
|Aspect||Chicory Coffee||Regular Coffee|
|Caffeine||Naturally caffeine-free||Contains caffeine (95mg per cup)|
|Flavor||Earthy, nutty||Varies (fruity to chocolaty)|
|Nutrition||Source of inulin, manganese, vitamin B6||Contains antioxidants, vitamins, minerals|
|Origin||Roasted chicory root||Roasted coffee beans|
Chicory isn’t just a tasty addition to your meals; it’s also a nutritional powerhouse. This root is rich in fiber, vitamin B6, and manganese, with a sprinkle of other micronutrients like vitamin C and potassium to boot.
Here’s what you’ll find in a typical serving of chicory coffee:
- Calories: 13
- Carbohydrates: 2.7 grams
- Protein: 0.4 gram
- Magnesium: 5.4mg
- Potassium: 62.7mg
- B6: 9% DV
- Manganese: 6% DV
- Folate: 4% DV
Chicory root is packed with potential health benefits. Think weight loss, enhanced blood sugar control, and improved digestion. Research even suggests that it may reduce stress, decrease inflammation, and give a boost to gut health.
Here is a list of research-backed benefits:
- Reduces Stress: Chicory contains no caffeine, making it a fantastic alternative to coffee. It can help lower stress-related hormones like epinephrine and cortisol3.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Chicory is rich in plant polyphenols, combating inflammation. Studies found caffeine-free chicory coffee to improve the body’s anti-inflammatory response4.
- Protects the Liver: Research shows chicory root extract can prevent free radical formation, thereby protecting the liver.
- May Prevent or Delay Diabetes: Chicory root extract was found to regulate blood sugar levels and fatty acid breakdown, suggesting its potential in preventing or delaying diabetes5.
- Helps Manage Osteoarthritis: A study showcased chicory’s ability to reduce pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients6.
- Aids Gut Health: With about 68 grams of inulin in 100 grams of chicory roots, it’s a leading food source of prebiotics, enhancing digestive health and reducing inflammation7.
- Relieves Constipation: Chicory root fiber can improve constipation, as found in a study of elderly adults with daily consumption of chicory.
Where to buy Chicory Coffee
You can buy Chicory coffee in-store and on Amazon.com. Here are four popular brands:
- Café du Monde™: A classic choice, especially for those who’ve visited New Orleans. Their blend combines chicory with coffee for a unique taste.
- Community Coffee®: Another brand offering a chicory blend, it’s a favorite in many Southern households.
- Leroux®: A French brand that offers pure chicory coffee, perfect for those looking for a caffeine-free option.
- Prewett’s®: A UK-based brand, they offer organic chicory coffee that’s both rich in flavor and caffeine-free.
What People Really Think About Chicory Coffee: Survey Insights
Chicory coffee is far from mainstream. But, the fact remains that in some corners of the U.S., it’s kind of a big deal. So, I thought, “Why not dig a little deeper into this?”
I reached out to my Facebook circle with a quick survey to get the inside scoop, and the results are eye-opening to say the least.
I polled 103 people and here are the results:
- Awareness: 63% have heard of chicory coffee.
- Tried It: Only 34% have tasted it.
- Willing to Try: 100% might try it if seen on a menu.
- Health Benefits: 66% know about its health perks.
- Coffee Substitute: 29% have used it as a coffee alternative.
- Health-Based Recommendation: 64% might recommend it, 35% definitely would.
- Belief in Mermaids: A surprising 100% believe in mermaids.
- Replace Regular Coffee: 37% say “No,” 31% are open to the idea.
- Brewing Knowledge: 0% know how to make it.
- Read Articles: 39% might read an article about it, 33% definitely would.
While you’re here, why not join the conversation? Take the same quick survey my Facebook friends did. Here it is.
Where did chicory coffee originate?
It’s believed to have originated in Egypt in ancient times and became popular in France and New Orleans during coffee shortages.
How does chicory coffee taste?
It has a slightly earthy and nutty flavor, similar to regular coffee.
What are the health benefits of chicory coffee?
Chicory root is a good source of inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber, and contains some manganese and vitamin B6.
Is chicory coffee caffeine-free?
Yes, chicory root is naturally caffeine-free. However, if mixed with regular coffee, the blend will contain some caffeine.
Are there any side effects of chicory coffee?
Some people might experience allergic reactions, IBS symptoms, or interactions with certain medications.
With this guide in hand, you’re fully prepared to make quality chicory coffee right in your own kitchen. Think of it as the base layer for an array of interesting coffee beverages. So, when you’re looking to mix things up, chicory coffee is a solid go-to. And after you’ve given it a shot, I’d be interested to know how it worked out. Drop your experience in the comments.