It is called chicory coffee because it is said to be a substitute for natural coffee. However, it is not made from coffee but from chicory and arose from the need of the population to find a delicious and cheaper substitute that is similar to coffee.
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What is chicory?
Chicory belongs to the daisy family (similar to lettuce, endive, arnica or dandelion) and is native to Europe. Their predominant color is green and like the similar lettuce, their leaves are mainly consumed in salads, giving the dish a bitter taste.
This plant was already known in ancient times. When coffee became too expensive and difficult to obtain, a substitute for coffee was found by grinding chicory root. It has a very similar taste. Records have also been found of its use as a medicinal and therapeutic plant used by the Egyptians to treat liver diseases.
Thanks to its use since ancient times, many beneficial properties for our organism have been identified, whether using the leaves in salads or grinding the roots to prepare infusions.
What is chicory coffee?
Chicory coffee is the product obtained from the infusion of ground chicory root and hot water.
As there is a variety of chicory in the endive family, it is the Intybus variety, the root of which is ground up and used as coffee, and has a leathery stem (leathery appearance and surface) and purple flowers.
In Europe, it became known as a coffee substitute because the product made from this infusion (mixing leaves with hot water to extract their aroma) has a coffee-like flavor. Nowadays there are different ways to get this coffee. The natural way is where you grind the chicory root yourself, let it dry and then make this infusion. But there are also companies that produce such specialized products.
How does the chicory coffee taste?
The taste and color of chicory coffee are not identical to traditional coffee, but it has a very mild and pleasant taste compared to other infusions.
Chicory tea is not as bitter as coffee, but has a slightly bitter taste.
Is chicory coffee a viable alternative?
The idea that chicory could replace coffee is not far-fetched, as the root used to make coffee is dried and roasted in the same way as coffee, and then prepared in the same way traditional coffee.
If you are unable to consume coffee for health reasons or whatever reason, chicory coffee is a great alternative. Chicory coffee does not contain caffeine.
Benefits of chicory
Because it is a natural plant that has been used for many years, it brings many benefits. Apart from the complete absence of caffeine, chicory provides our body with nutrients that promote the formation and proliferation of beneficial bacteria in the intestines after drinking this infusion. The plant contains a prebiotic fiber compound called inulin (stimulates immune system components).
Chicory is a great source of minerals, meaning it can be an excellent addition to our diet:
- Increases appetite
- Excellent natural probiotic
- Reduces abdominal bloating
- Balances blood sugar levels
- Contains no calories
- Rich in antioxidants
The plant helps regulate bowel movements, helps lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and provides vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
These vitamins and minerals promote digestion, have a diuretic effect and thus help our kidneys to do their job.
Chicory has so many benefits that it might seem almost unlikely, but its effectiveness has been proven for years. It’s amazing what a single plant can do for our health.
What chicory is good for
This almost miraculous plant is used for many things in our bodies, its medicinal use dates back to what is considered the old world.
Because its ingredients include
- Organic acids
- Vitamin A
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
The plant is said to have the following effects:
- Strengthens the immune system.
- Can increase or decrease appetite, after meals it has a satiating effect, so taking chicory after a meal causes a feeling of satiety.
- In our digestive system, it acts as a natural cleanser, helps fight acidity, stimulates the digestion of gastric juices, and also helps reduce bloating. It also keeps our kidneys healthy and our urine clean.
- In the circulatory system, it prevents diseases, strokes and heart attacks, acts on the liver and helps filter blood.
Contraindications for chicory
Despite its great benefits and contributions to our body organs and health, chicory should not be taken as a remedy for people suffering from the following diseases.
- kidney problems
- Low blood pressure
- Gastrointestinal diseases such as gastritis or reflux
- Gout or arthritis
- Anemia or high blood pressure
- Insomnia problems
- Stomach ulcers
The roasting of chicory can lead to gluten, because of its oxalate content, people with gallstone problems should take this infusion with great caution. Oxalates are a compound found in some foods and oxalates are also produced by the body but are excreted through urine.
These are some cases where eating chicory is not recommended. Ideally, to use chicory as a dietary supplement, you should consult a doctor who will recommend its use. If you suffer from any of the above diseases, it is extremely important not to consume chicory.
Recommendations for consumption
Because chicory coffee consumption is based on the ground root, there are many other ways to use the whole plant as well.
- With its leaves, it can be used as an ingredient in our salads. Their taste can be bitter, but using vinaigrette or mayonnaise will mitigate that taste.
- Boiled, gratinated or baked is another way of eating it. Cooking it can lose some of its vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to boil it in a little water so that the remaining broth can be used later.
- To reduce the loss of vitamins and minerals, it can be steamed (in a steamer or pressure cooker) as it does not come into contact with water and thus retains its vitamins.
- Chicory can be processed into various preparations in infusions.
- Because of its high vitamin and mineral content, it is recommended to consume it in the morning.
- Since it contains no caffeine, it can be consumed at any time of the day.
How much chicory coffee can you drink?
Although the benefits for our body far outweigh the contraindications, it is best to drink one or two cups of chicory coffee a day to avoid negative effects.
Infusions with chicory
Since chicory is not bitter, it is excellent for preparing various infusions that can be drunk at any time of the day.
Chicory and coffee infusion
You can mix chicory with regular coffee. Once you have the ground chicory, use 50/50, i.e. half the chicory and half the coffee of your choice, to get the benefits of the chicory and the delicious taste of the coffee.
Then prepare the coffee as you like, you may or may not use a coffee maker. Because of the chicory’s flavor, it’s not necessary to use sugar, but you can add it if you like.
If, for whatever reason, you want to give up caffeine, you can use chicory on its own, as there is no need to use sweeteners.
All you have to do is boil a cup of water with two tablespoons of roasted chicory root, then simply strain the brew and you’re ready to enjoy your natural infusion.
Chicory infusion to make natural coffee
As another way to prepare this infusion, you can prepare it like a regular coffee. Instead of coffee, use chicory, either homemade or store-bought. Then you should prepare the coffee as usual, optionally you can use honey to sweeten it naturally.
You can also prepare the infusion with water or milk without altering the goodness of the chicory.
How to make chicory coffee
The first and easiest option is if you buy instant chicory coffee from the supermarket. In this case, you just have to brew it like a traditional coffee. You can use water or milk for the preparation, because with this method there is a chance that the manufacturer has added sweeteners or even caffeine.
However, if you want to taste the chicory coffee as naturally as possible, you should buy the root of this plant in the supermarket. It’s easy to spot: a purple plant with wavy petals that looks a lot like lettuce.
You have to remove the root and once it is completely dry you have to cut it into small pieces to roast it. Man can roast them in two ways, firstly in an oven tray at 175º C until they turn brown and exude an intense, coffee-like aroma. If you don’t have an oven or oven, you can also roast them in a pan without oil until you can see the brown color.
Once cool, you can grind the pieces in a blender or crush them in a kitchen mortar and grind by hand.
The chicory coffee can now be prepared.