Morgan Botanicals

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What The Heck Is Chicory Coffee Anyway?

Jessica Morgan, M.H.

Believe it or not, I have heard this question many times. And believe it or not, chicory coffee really is good....I promise.  How can you go wrong, you get the coffee flavor without the caffeine, the coffee flavor without the dreaded acidity and the coffee flavor with all the benefits of a good cleansing herb.

Amazingly enough, the chicory plant is one of the earliest cited in recorded literature. Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: "Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae" ("As for me, olives, endives, and mallows provide sustenance") Can you imagine having a diet like this? Maybe, maybe not, but it's well worth respecting.

The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used the roots and the young shoots of chicory in spring just like the dandelion, which are both known to have diuretic, tonic and laxative properties, and are said to protect the liver from effects of excessive coffee drinking. But, the taste for coffee and chicory was developed by the French during their civil war. Since coffee was scarce during those times, they found that by adding chicory, that it added body and flavor to the brew. The roots were baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive, especially in the Mediterranean region where the plant is native. Its use as a coffee additive was and still is also very popular in India, parts of Southeast Asia, and South Africa. The Acadians from Nova Scotia eventually brought this taste and many other french customs to the southern United States, particularly in Louisiana. And from there spread the taste of chicory coffee and the flavor of New Orleans across the country. It even gets better because beer brewers began using roasted chicory to add flavor to their stouts....yum.  

Chicory has been known as being a popular coffee substitute in poorer economic areas, and gained wider popularity during economic crises such as the Great Depression the 1930s. In fact, chicory, with sugar beet and rye was used as an ingredient in the East German Mischkaffee (mixed coffee), introduced during the "coffee crisis"of 1976-79.

Now, chicory coffee is making a huge positive comeback and can be very pricey if purchased from the specialty stores. But heres the secret... you can simply grow and harvest your own chicory roots. Or, you can buy it from your local herb source and grind it and roast it yourself for a fraction of the price.


Here's how I like to do it:

To prepare chicory coffee, pour boiling water on about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoonful of dried roasted and ground chicory root, steep for 10 minutes, then strain. Combines well with coffee, dandelion root, malted barley, cinnamon and rye as well as raw sugar and cream.

~Enjoy

As always, please email any questions to herbalist@morganbotanicals.com.

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Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Jessica Morgan, M. H., Morgan Botanicals.

Disclaimer - The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for self-diagnosis or to replace any prescriptive medication. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem, suffer from allergies, are pregnant or nursing.

Jessica Morgan, M.H.

 

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