Chicory: An Herbal Coffee Substitute
July 19, 2022
Origins & History of Chicory
Chicory is native to Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. Characterized by its bright blue flowers and bitter–tasting green leaves, chicory has a long and storied history of culinary use.
The earliest recorded use of chicory dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was used medicinally, while the ancient Greeks and Romans reportedly added chicory greens to salads. While chicory leaves and flowers are commonly used in cooking, the root has become the most famed part of the plant. Why? Chicory root has a 200–year–old history as a coffee substitute. In fact, one of chicory’s many nicknames is “coffeeweed.”
Chicory as a Coffee Replacement
The Dutch may have been the first to add roasted chicory root to their coffee, with some records dating back to the mid–1700s. But the story of chicory as a complete coffee replacement begins
several decades later, amidst war and trade embargos.
In 1766, Frederick the Great restricted a number of foreign imports into Prussia — including coffee. Craving the taste, individuals began experimenting with coffee substitutes. The most
popular alternative was developed by a Brunswick innkeeper: roasted chicory.
The French adopted the habit of drinking chicory “coffee” during the early 1800s, after Napoleon Bonaparte implemented the Continental Blockade, which blocked the import of foreign goods.
While chicory was sometimes mixed into coffee to help stretch out supplies, it was also sipped entirely on its own.
Over the next several decades, France exported a large amount of chicory to neighboring countries as well as to the French colonies, including New Orleans.
By the mid–1800s, New Orleans had become North America’s second–largest coffee port. When Union naval blockades cut off port access during the American Civil War, Louisianians began
adding chicory root to their coffee to help make the bean supply last longer.
Yet even after the Civil War ended, Louisianians did not stop blending chicory into their coffee. Traditional New–Orleans style coffee still features chicory root, giving the beverage added depth of flavor. Today, chicory coffee can be enjoyed in cafes across the city.
Satisfying Chicory Tea
Chicory root can be steeped and sipped on its own, but its warm, nutty, woody flavor also pairs wonderfully with many herbs, spices and other ingredients.
Coconut Cocoa Cuppa Chocolate Tea blends roasted chicory with cocoa, coconut and carob to create a rich, exotic and naturally sweet cup. Add a splash of milk to transform this cuppa into a
satisfying low–caffeine tea latte.
Wellness Benefits of Chicory
Naturally caffeine–free, chicory is an ideal coffee replacement for individuals who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine or who are looking to reduce their caffeine intake. Chicory root contains
a number of essential micronutrients, including manganese, folate, potassium and vitamin C. It is also a good source of the prebiotic fiber inulin, which may support gut health.*
In traditional healing practices chicory was used as a liver enhancer and to treat digestive ailments.* This is likely because chicory is a bitter herb, as bitter flavors may help to stimulate
the digestive system and improve food absorption.*
Whether you are searching for a healthful coffee alternative or simply seeking a flavorful new herbal tea to enjoy, chicory will make a delightful addition to your tea collection. As always,
savor each cup of chicory tea sip by sip.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.