Coffee Chicory (Cichorium intybus) Herbaceous Caffeine Free Coffee Alternative Herb

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 Coffee Chicory (Cichorium intybus) Herbaceous Caffeine Free Coffee Alternative Herb


Height 1 m

Chicory, is a blue flowering herbaceous biennial of the family Asteraceae; it is an erect fairly woody herb, with a fleshy taproot of up to 75 cm in length, and large basal leaves. Coffee Chicory is made by roasting, grinding, and brewing the roots of the chicory plant. It tastes similar to coffee, featuring a flavour that's often described as slightly earthy and nutty.  It's used either on its own or mixed with coffee to complement its flavour, and best of all, also contains zero caffeine. It does however yield 45 to 65% of soluble extractive matter, while coffee yields only 20 to 25%. This difference explains why less coffee and chicory can be brewed while still resulting in a beverage that looks (and tastes) quite strong.

 Coffee Chicory is native to Europe and Western Asia, and was introduced to the Americas in the late 19th century. Since its naturalization coffee chicory has been widely adopted for its many health benefits. The young leaves can also be enjoyed as a vegetable or used as a garnish in a salad. Easy to grow - similar to that of lettuce greens (75-120 days to maturity).

Coffee chicory is more widely known as a delicious coffee substitute. The fleshy hairy roots are ready to harvest in Fall.  Once harvested, the roots are slow-roasted and ground. Not the real thing, but pretty darn close! Chicory root is a good source of inulin, a type of prebiotic fibre that may support weight loss and improve gut health. It also contains some manganese and vitamin B6, two nutrients tied to brain health. 

  • Full Sun or part shade.
  • Fertile, well-draining soil will give you the leafiest growth and healthiest roots.
  • Direct sow in Spring. Plant seeds 1/4 in deep in loose soil; keep the soil lightly moist until germination, which should occur in 10-14 days. Make shallow furrows in the soil spaces 2 ft apart.
  • Harvest: Young leaves = around 60 days. Roots = in the Fall after 120 days. The crown should be approximately 5 to 7 in wide, and the taproot around 9 in long. Pull them up just like you would a carrot, wash them, and cook or roast them within a few days of harvest.
  • Seed Count: 20

Chicory Coffee

The chicory plant flowers from July to October. The flowers only open on sunny days. The roots, however, are best to pick between fall and spring. The leaves and root of the plant are the bits that most people eat. The flower itself is technically edible, but it has a bitter taste.

1. Gather the Roots: wash the roots until all the dirt is off. Dry the whole root on a towel in the sun.

2. Mince the roots with a sharp knife: the bits should be no longer than one inch long. Ensure that they are small enough and will roast quickly, but not so small that they will burn through. Don't worry about peeling the root. The roots are sturdy, and you'll need a sharp knife, especially since the pieces shouldn't be longer than 1 inch. 

3. Toast the chicory root. Arrange the root pieces on a baking sheet, then cook at 350 degrees until golden brown. You should smell a rich, coffee-like aroma. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the chicory cool.

4. Grind the chicory root. Use a coffee grinder to reduce the root to a fine powder. If you intend to mix the chicory root with coffee grounds, then you should try to grind your chicory to about the same coarseness as your coffee. Note: If you don't have a coffee grinder, try mincing the root very finely or use a mortar and pestle to crush the toasted root.

5. Mix ground chicory with ground coffee. The ratio comes down to personal tastes and is completely up to you. Coffee is caffeinated-chicory is not. Chicory is usually somewhat more acidic than coffee, although some prefer the taste. Experiment with various ratios of chicory to coffee until you find a combination that suits you.

Try a 1:4 or 1:5 ratio of chicory to coffee.
If you are trying to seriously reduce your coffee consumption, try a 1:2 or a 2:3 ratio of chicory to coffee. Consider drinking a mostly-chicory blend. Perhaps you want the warmth and the taste of coffee, but not the stimulating effects. Try a 4:1 or 5:1 blend of chicory to coffee.

6. Brew chicory coffee. Make coffee as you normally would, using a french press, a coffee machine, a pour-over, or a pot of boiling water. Use the mixed chicory-and-coffee grounds in place of straight coffee grounds. The brew time and the other logistics should be the same as making regular coffee.  Double or triple the recipe depending on the volume that you want.

7. Add some foamed milk. Enjoy!

If you are considering using chicory to wean yourself off of coffee you can gradually increase the ratio of chicory to coffee until you are drinking mostly non-caffeinated chicory over the course of several weeks.

Boil chicory coffee. Bring one cup of water to a boil, then add two tablespoons of the minced and toasted chicory root. Cover and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Alternately, you can simply grind the chicory root and brew the powder. Brew chicory coffee the same way you usually brew coffee. Use a french press, a coffee machine, a pour-over, or any other method. You may also boil and simmer the powder as you would with the minced root.