Chicory Coffee – What Is Chicory Coffee and How to Make It

Chicory coffee is a beverage prepared with roasted and ground chicory or a blend of chicory and coffee. The ratio of coffee to chicory can be as high as 3 to 1, or as low as 1 to 3. Chicory coffee is made of the roots of the cultivated plant Cichorium Intybus Sativum, by roasting and grinding them.

Chicory coffee beverage in white cup with flower on board

Humanity has used chicory since the antiquity, both as a food and as a medicine. Many of the health benefits attributed by the ancients are recognized today, and there is still a lot to be researched in the field. Chicory as a coffee substitute seems to have appeared in France with the Continental Blockade imposed by Napoleon. The Continental System imposed by Napoleon against the British has left all the Europe without coffee. As a result, chicory was used to replace coffee entirely, or partially. The Eastern European bloc used chicory as a coffee substitute during the International coffee crisis. Chicory was used in combination with coffee in different ratios in order to lower the cost.

Although chicory coffee is sometimes perceived as a poor’s man coffee choice, there are places in the world where it is the favorite beverage. For instance in Louisiana, people drink it because they love it more than 100% Arabica coffee. The chicory coffee was brought to Louisiana by the Acadians, who were French settlers. In Louisiana, some still prepare it using la gregue, (French drip coffee pot).

Health Benefits of Chicory

Raw Chicory Roots

Chicory coffee is the coffee substitute of choice in Europe, not only for its resemblance with real coffee but also because of its health benefits.

Chicory is thought to be a tonic, an anti-parasitic, and because of the high content of inulin, a prebiotic soluble carbohydrate, can help with weight loss, intestinal health, and selectively encourages probiotic microorganisms to develop.

A lot of the inulin is in fact lost during processing, and this is good because too much inulin could cause serious abdominal discomfort. During roasting, inulin transforms into sugar, and the roasted chicory loses the bitter taste.

Chicory is considered as mellowing down the effects of coffee and taking the edge off of caffeine. This is why they work greatly blended.

Newer research shows that chicory lowers blood sugar, and decreases the LDL cholesterol, (the bad one), while maintaining the levels of HDL.

Community Coffee Ground Chicory

The chicory coffee from Community Coffee, is not blended with coffee beans, and it is delicious and you can brew it as is. What I love about this product is the fact that is not bitter at all, like other brands, and it has a nutty taste.

Sometimes I like to choose my own Arabica coffee to mix it with Community Coffee’s chicory and create my own unique blends. I can get some great flavors by carefully selecting my beans, and matching them to the unique profile of chicory. You can buy Community Coffee chicory on Amazon, or check their online store, for more options.

Chicory Coffee Recipe

The recipe for chicory coffee does not differ from regular coffee. This is the great thing about roasted chicory, it can be brewed like regular coffee. You can use a manual dripper, a filter coffee maker, a French press, or an espresso machine. You can even use a Keurig machine. If you have the older model of the Keurig, and not the Keurig 2.0, you can use a reusable capsule.

The ratio of water to chicory is the same as with regular coffee, which means 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. This is the recommendation of the National Coffee Association USA for coffee, but chicory can be brewed exactly as you would brew coffee. Obviously, this is just a guideline, and every person has their preferences and taste, so adjust this to your liking.

How is chicory different from coffee, besides the caffeine content? Chicory has more soluble solids, which makes it possible to have a fuller bodied cup with less of the ground stuff. Chicory is also a little more bitter, and in many recipes, milk is added to tone the bitterness down. This is called Café au Lait, and the traditional recipe calls for half milk half chicory coffee. Both the milk and the coffee need to be hot when mixed.

Boil, or Steep Chicory Coffee?

There are two main ways of brewing chicory, and each way has its advantages. You can boil it on a low heat for 10 minutes and then serve it. Or you can just steep it, or extract it at lower temperatures, as you would with coffee. The advantage of boiling it for a long time is that more of the inulin transforms into sugar, so there are no stomach rumblings after a cup of straight chicory coffee. On the other hand, if you boil a mix of coffee and chicory, all the delicate aroma of coffee will be burnt by the prolonged exposure to high temperature. This means you would have to brew your blend as you would regular coffee, steeping in a French press, dripping on a filter machine, or a manual filter, brewing it with an espresso machine, (this one is my favorite), or just use the traditional way of preparing it, using a French drip coffee pot.

Chicory vs Coffee

You probably wonder why people are mixing chicory and coffee when they can just drink the plain substitute.

Is there any difference between the two? What are these differences, then? The most known difference is that chicory doesn't contain caffeine, the substance responsible for the stimulating effect of coffee. Here are the other important differences between chicory and coffee:

Chicory Flower
  • Coffee contains caffeine, while chicory is caffeine free; as a result, chicory has a calming effect, while coffee acts as a stimulant.
  • Chicory is more bitter, and it contains more soluble solids, this means that you can use less of the ground stuff for brewing.
  • Chicory does not contain any of the volatile oils that are present in coffee, hence a different flavor profile.
  • Coffee does not contain inulin.
  • Both, coffee and chicory, can cause an upset stomach, but they work differently, coffee irritates the stomach because of its stimulatory effects, while inulin in chicory causes gas.
  • Both have laxative effects, but the mechanism is different. Chicory has a prebiotic effect, because of the inulin content, while coffee increases rectosigmoid motor activity and stimulates peristaltic movement.
  • Coffee is associated with reduced absorption of calcium, while chicory, because of its high content of inulin increases the absorption.
  • Coffee can have an important negative impact on people with adrenal fatigue, or thyroid gland problems, because it over-stimulates them, on the other hand, chicory has the opposite effect.
  • Coffee contains 0 calories per 100 grams, while chicory has 23.
  • 100 grams of chicory contains 12% of the daily value of Potassium, 3% protein, 114% Vitamin A, 40% Vitamin C, 10% Calcium, 5% Vitamin B6, and 7% Magnesium. Coffee contains 0% of those.
  • Chicory can contain up to 16% dietary fiber, depending on how it is prepared, coffee contains none.
  • Chicory contains inulin, which is a prebiotic, however, it looks like coffee contains its own prebiotic, which stimulates different colonies than inulin.
  • Chicory coffee is made from the roasted root of the plant, while coffee is made from the pits of the coffee cherry.
  • Chicory is less expensive

How to Make Chicory Coffee?

If you want to make your own chicory coffee and not buy it, it is very simple. You can use the wild variety, or the root of the endive, however, the best variety for this is Chicorium Intybus Sativum. Here is a quick how to make chicory coffee, if you want to save some money:

  • Harvest the chicory roots, if you want to use the wild variety, look for a tall plant with a beautiful blue flower. (Picture attached).
  • Wash and peel the roots so that they are perfectly clean.
  • Cut the roots in small even pieces. They have to be roughly the same width, so they roast evenly.
  • Toast the minced roots in a shallow pan or a baking sheet at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grind the roasted pieces in a good burr grinder, according to your preferred brewing method, (fine grind for espresso, coarse for French press).
  • Brew as is, or mixed with real coffee.
Roasted Chicory

This roasted chicory is slowly roasted at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 7 hours. This way you preserve more inulin, and you obtain a wonderful taste. I eat this as is, it's delicious.

Chicory contains inulin, an indigestible carbohydrate. Indigestible carbohydrates, (soluble fiber), are prebiotics, that means they stimulate the intestinal flora. While great for your stomach, too much inulin when you are not used to it, can cause you stomach problems. If you brew as is, boil it more, so that the inulin transforms into sugars. Or roast it more.

The recommended dose for a chicory coffee is 1/3 chicory and 2/3 coffee, up to 1/5 chicory and 4/5 coffee. Start with a low dose of chicory, and increase the quantity in time.

Where to Buy Chicory Coffee

French Market Coffee & Chicory

If you live in New Orleans, you probably know where to buy the stuff, it is very easy to find in stores. If you live in other parts of the country, the easiest way to get it is online. You can find on Amazon a few reputable brands. Shopping on Amazon is easy, convenient and safe.

Some of the most reputable chicory coffee brands are located in Louisiana. We tried various brands, and we were particularly impressed by French MarketLuziannne, and Cafe du Monde, but I’m sure there are other great alternatives.

My absolute favorite is the Community Coffee Private Reserve, which is not bitter at all, and it contains chicory only.

Chicory – A Tea that Tastes like Coffee

Chicory Coffee Espresso Shot

Chicory Coffee Espresso Shot

In conclusion, if you want a tea that tastes like coffee, chicory is a great, caffeine free, herbal, coffee substitute. It is healthy, it doesn’t contain caffeine, and if you boil it long enough, you will turn that soluble fiber into sugar, so you don’t get any cramps. If it’s the first time you drink it, I would recommend you to start with a low dose of chicory to coffee, or if you make a chicory only beverage, boil it longer.

5 thoughts on “Chicory Coffee – What Is Chicory Coffee and How to Make It”

    • It’s like coffee, some like it dark roast, some like it lighter. The more you roast it, the more inulin transforms into sugar. Some of that sugar caramelizes, hence the dark color. The best is to try a few small batches with various roasting degrees. If you want it for health, (more inulin), lighter is the best.

  1. Would be easier to contemplate we’re it not so Apothecarian. Roasting times, temperatures, grinds and blends. Tea is more straight forward. Especially brewing in the wild. Makes me wonder how the Wagon Train Range-cooks managed it.

    • Eduard,
      I appreciate the comment.
      This guide is for perfectionists. If you want, and don’t mind the taste, just prepare it like a tea.

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