Friday, July 06, 2007

Chicory Coffee

I can't remember when I first read that the roots of Chicory (Cichorium intybus), a common roadside alien plant, make a decent coffee substitute. I remember being intrigued and planning to try it. Years went by and I never bothered. This Christmas I got an awesome coffee grinder and French press from my sister. The wheels were set in motion.

Chicory is pretty abundant right now, but Beth and I weren't able to find a spot that was easily accessible (AKA not in the middle of a main road) to pick some. Lucky for me, Beth brought me home a gift yesterday – a big bunch of Chicory!

I cut the roots off and composted the remains (although we could have eaten the leaves I guess). I cleaned the roots with a scrub brush and lots of water, then cut them into small pieces. I had read that I should roast them at 250 degrees for 2 hours. I laid them on a cookie sheet and popped them in the oven. After an hour, the root chunks had reduced to about half the size and looked like little twigs. There was also a distinct nutty aroma in the kitchen. The "twigs" looked pretty dry to me, so I took them out.

I let them cool, then ground them up into what looked like sawdust. I decided to make a brew of half coffee (shade-grown of course!) and half chicory. Beth had read that pure chicory coffee is very bitter. After tasting the concoction, I couldn't really discern any distinct flavor, but I did notice that the coffee tasted less bitter normal. Beth quickly quipped, "Well, that's probably because you used half as much." Good point.

So, I feel like I still don't know what chicory tastes like. Perhaps I didn't roast it long enough to bring out its flavor or perhaps mixing it with coffee was the wrong approach. I have a little of the chicory left so maybe I'll try a pure chicory coffee tonight.

In retrospect, I should have taken some pictures of this effort. Sorry readers! For an excellent history of chicory and chicory coffee, check out Coffeeproject.com.

6 comments:

James said...

Patrick,
I don't see a way to contact you directly by email... I wanted to say that if you want some real chicory I can send you a sample so you can compare.

james@coffeeproject.com

Jochen said...

Chicory coffee is quite commonly consumed in Germany, and now that you write about it: I never noticed it in stores here.
It is often referred to as "Kid's Coffee" because it is better suited for children and I sometimes drink it at the office to get a "feeling" of drinking coffee without having the negative side effects 2 cans of coffee a day would have.
I have never tried making it myself though. The chicory coffee you can buy at stores doesn't only contain chicory, so to drink it pure might taste different, but I don't know what else is put in.

LauraHinNJ said...

Patrick,

I buy chicory in the grocery, though sometimes it's sold as endive. I'd imagine it's the tamed version of that familiar roadside weed. Anyway, it makes a lovely salad - a bit bitter, but that's nicely countered with a drizzle of a good balsamic.

I seem to remember my dad talking about chicory coffee - maybe from the depression days when coffee was scarce and especially pricey - the real stuff was cut with chicory and made to go that much further.

Larry said...

Now that's pretty interesting-I know where I can get lots of chickory right now.-probably easier to try it in a salad though.

Mike said...

It's very cool that you tried this, Patrick. Wait until you get the recipe right... you'll be foraging for your morning coffee!

Sudha said...

hi mike,

Do you know where I could buy chicory powder in woodbridge new jersey?

try a 80% to 20% ratio of coffee to chicory..your coffee should come out nice and thick..add pure milk to this mixture and you should have yourself a fine latte.