Chicory Puts A Little Mardi Gras In Your Coffee

Posted by Steph on Saturday in Coffee Brewing, Coffee Facts, Coffee Recipe, Health | Short Link
If you’ve ever had coffee in New Orleans, you may find there’s an added, unfamiliar but pleasant zip in that cup. It isn’t the water and it isn’t special beans. More than likely, it is the chicory doing a zydeco dance on your taste buds.

What is Chicory?

Basically, chicory is a type of flowering plant of the Asteraceae family. While there are half a dozen varieties, only two are commercially cultivated for human consumption. Chicory grows very easily in much of the US, sometimes found as a weed called coffeeweed, succory or blue sailors.

Chicory plants are usually bushy with lavender or blue blossoms. While the flowers are beautiful to look at, the roots are actually what is used in the beverage making business. The greens are sold as endive, radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive or witloof in grocery stores. Cultivation is usually done in complete darkness so the greenery of the plant can be harvested and sold as well.

Chicory and Coffee

Dating back for many decades, the root of the chicory plant has been baked, milled and substituted or added to ground coffee to add a spiciness similar to but distinctly different than cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. It is believed that the French started this tradition and influenced cities like New Orleans to do the same. The essence of a coffee drink, when mixed with chicory, is less harsh and has less acid than plain coffee brews.

It’s Good for You

There are dozens of medicinal uses and benefits of including chicory in your cup of coffee. It’s been used for centuries in Germany, Rome and France to treat everything from liver and gallbladder problems to a laxative and dyspepsia.

The most recent discovery is that chicory is high in insulin, containing up to 20% of the blood sugar stabilizing chemical. This is great news for those suffering from Type II diabetes. Taken alone or mixed with coffee from beans, those stricken with diabetes can naturally and holistically stabilize their blood sugar levels and help maintain healthy levels.

While medical professionals will steer you away from treating many internal health problems on your own, you can use a strong pot of chicory coffee, taken throughout the day, to care for a number of ailments. Dyspepsia (chronic upset stomach), loss of appetite caused by nearly anything, liver trouble, gallbladder problems and intestinal worms can all be treated to some extent with chicory root beverage. Chicory is frequently prescribed to cancer patients going through chemotherapy to counter the appetite depleting and constipation often associated with the treatment as well as the disease.

Make a Chicory Coffee

Traditional chicory coffee is made with a French press. Start with about a quarter cup each ground chicory root and ground coffee beans. Both should be the texture of rough sand. Place both the chicory and the coffee beans in the bottom of the French press.

Boil enough water to just about fill the French press. Use filtered water if possible. As the water comes to a boil, pout it into the press. The beans and chicory root will float to the top of the water. Press the French press plunger down just far enough to hold the grounds under the water.

Allow the mixture to steep for about five minutes. Press the plunger in all the way to compact the grounds and release their essence into the water. Pour into cups and sweeten with a cube of sugar or artificial sweetener and milk or cream.

The spent grounds make a great lawn and garden fertilizer. If you compost, adding the grounds will infuse nitrogen into the resulting soil. Worms will swarm to your compost and garden to munch your grounds.

Gourmet Chicory Coffee

If you don’t want to experiment at home, then you can also get New Orleans-style coffee with chicory roasted and ground to order from specialty coffee roasters. Chickadee Brand coffee is a popular organic, Fair Trade coffee roasted by Big City Coffee and available throughout Louisiana and online at


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