What Is Chicory Coffee?

If you have visited New Orleans there is a good chance that you have tasted chicory coffee. What is chicory coffee? Chicory coffee contains the root of the chicory plant. Chicory grows wild in Europe and has adapted to North America and Australia. Roasted and ground chicory has a flavor similar to coffee so when coffee has been scarce chicory has been used as a substitute either entirely or in part.

Chicory Flower

Chicory Flower

Root Chicory

Root chicory has been cultivated as a coffee substitute in Europe. If the roots are baked and ground they can be used as a coffee substitute or additive. This is common in the Mediterranean region of France where the plant grows wild. In Southeast Asia chicory is mixed in Indian filter coffee. Chicory coffee is common in Southeast Asia, South Africa and the Southern USA, especially New Orleans. Elsewhere Chicory has been used when coffee is not available such as during the Second World War in Europe and everywhere outside of coffee producing countries in the Great Depression. Strong blond Belgian style ales often contain chicory to augment the hops.

Chicory Root

Chicory Root

 

Making Chicory Coffee

Let us say that you are a fan of healthy organic coffee but would like to try something a little different. You can certainly buy, coffee, chicory or a mixture of both. But is you want to do it right, how do you make chicory coffee?

  • Starting with fresh chicory root, preferably from your own garden, pick and clean.
  • Cut into slices and dry in the sun or in the oven on low temperature.
  • Roast the chicory in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for at least half an hour or longer for a “darker” roast.
  • Grind the roasted chicory chips, twice as they do not grind as well as coffee.
  • Grind your whole bean organic roasted coffee.
  • Make the first batch with half coffee and half chicory.
  • Then adjust to taste in later batches.

Chicory has a chocolate and malt-like aroma and flavor. It is slightly more acidic than coffee. Drink your chicory coffee and think of New Orleans.

With Beignets

If you want the entire New Orleans chicory coffee experience you need to have your chicory coffee with beignets. A long term New Orleans favorite, beignets are squares of bread dough, deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar. Ideally they are made fresh in front of the customer. Fortunately you can find beignets outside of New Orleans although not always with chicory coffee. The LA Times reports that there is a beignet food truck that roams the Arts District Farmers Market.

With all the different food trucks roaming around the streets of Los Angeles, it’s comforting to know there’s one truck serving nothing but piping hot beignets, chicory-laced coffee and hot chocolate.The Beignet truck is at the Arts District Farmers market in downtown L.A. most Thursdays. It’s parked next to a health food vendor and across from a man who serves rotisserie chicken out of a truck.Every instinct will tell you to rip open the bag and stuff one in your mouth. Just be a little cautious. These golden, puffy pillows of dough are served exceedingly hot, with every inch covered in sugar.The beignets have a light, crisp coating, but are fluffy and chewy on the inside. And when you take a bite, a small cloud of sugar poofs out of the top, showering your clothes and anything nearby in a layer of sweet white snow.

And if you find a place that makes fresh beignets, look for chicory coffee as well!

 

Coffee and Chicory

Coffee and Chicory


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