Chicory Coffee: History, Health Benefits & More

If you’ve ever wondered what chicory coffee is, you first need to get familiar with chicory. Chicory is a versatile plant that is used in a variety of ways, from salads to – you guessed it! – coffee.

Chicory is a member of the dandelion family. It has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, and is now cultivated all over the world. The plant’s leaves, buds, and roots can all be used in cooking, and its roots are often roasted and ground to make a caffeine-free coffee substitute.

Chicory is also a rich source of inulin, a type of dietary fiber that has been shown to have numerous health benefits.

Whether you’re looking to add more fiber to your diet or or just a new flavor dimension to your morning brew, chicory is a solid choice. So let’s dive in shall, we?

Here’s the scoop on Chicory:

History of Chicory

Chicory has a long, flavorful history dating back to ancient Egypt, where it was prized for its medicinal properties. Egyptians used chicory root as a diuretic, laxative, and tonic for the liver and gallbladder. It was also used as an ingredient in a popular drink called “cichorium,” which was made from roasted chicory root mixed with water and milk.

During the Roman Empire, chicory was used as a bittering agent for beer. The ancient Greeks and Romans also believed that chicory had medicinal properties, and they used it to treat various ailments, including liver disorders and gallstones.

In the 17th century, chicory was introduced to Europe as a crop and was cultivated mainly in France and Belgium. The plant was used as a coffee substitute during the Napoleonic Wars when coffee was scarce. Chicory became so popular that it was added to coffee to make it taste better.

Today, chicory is still used as a coffee additive and a coffee substitute when coffee is either unobtainable or too costly. Chicory coffee is also traditionally used when making a Vietnamese Iced Coffee.

Yes, chicory has a long and fascinating history that spans thousands of years. From its use in ancient Egypt as a medicinal herb to its popularity as a coffee substitute during wartime, chicory has played an important role in many cultures throughout history.

Chicory and New Orleans

If you are familiar with New Orleans – particularly its bustling coffee scene – then you’ve certainly heard of chicory coffee.

Chicory became popular during the Civil War when a naval blockade prevented the import of coffee. New Orleanians started adding chicory to their coffee to stretch their supplies. The practice caught on, and chicory coffee became a beloved tradition in the city.

Today, you can find chicory coffee at most coffee shops in New Orleans.

Perhaps the most famous place to get chicory coffee in New Orleans is Café du Monde. This iconic coffee shop in the French Quarter has been serving up beignets and chicory coffee since 1862.

Cafe du Monde

Café du Monde makes its coffee by mixing roasted and ground chicory root with coffee. The result is a rich, slightly sweet beverage that pairs perfectly with freshly made beignets.

If you’re visiting New Orleans, trying chicory coffee is a must. However, you can also enjoy Café du Monde at home. Buy it online, or look for the iconic yellowish-orange can at your local market.

Cafe du Monde Chicory Coffee in its iconic orange can

What Does Chicory Taste Like?

Chicory has a unique flavor that is slightly bitter and nutty. It is often compared to the taste of coffee, but with a less intense and less acidic flavor. The root of the chicory plant is commonly used for cooking and is known for its versatility in different dishes.

Chicory leaves have a slightly bitter taste that can be offset by pairing them with other flavors. They are often used in salads, sandwiches, and as a garnish for soups and stews. The bitterness of chicory leaves can also be reduced by blanching them in boiling water for a few minutes before cooking.

Chicory root is what is commonly used as a coffee substitute, especially in New Orleans-style coffee. When roasted and ground, chicory root has a rich, dark flavor that is similar to coffee.

Chicory can also be used as a natural sweetener due to its high content of inulin, a type of dietary fiber that has a sweet taste. Inulin is often used as a sugar substitute in baking recipes and can also be added to smoothies and other beverages for a natural sweetness. If you want to add inulin to your meals at home, this Organic Chicory Root Inulin Powder is a great option.

Chicory Cultivation and Harvesting


If you want to grow chicory, you need to start with the right soil. Chicory does best in a well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. You can add compost or well-rotted manure to the soil to improve its quality. The ideal pH range for growing chicory is between 6.0 and 7.5.

Chicory can be grown from seeds or transplants. If you are starting from seeds, sow them directly into the garden in the early spring or late summer. You can also start the seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost date.

Chicory needs full sun. Though it can tolerate a bit of drought, it needs regular watering to produce good quality roots. If you want to experiment with growing chicory at home, try this Drought-Tolerant Chicory from OutsidePride.

Chicory Plant


The right time for harvesting chicory depends on why you’re growing it. If you are growing chicory for its leaves, you can start harvesting them when they are about 6 inches tall. Cut the leaves off at the base of the plant and they will regrow.

If you are growing chicory for its roots, you can harvest them in the fall after the first frost. The frost actually helps to sweeten the roots. To harvest the roots, dig them up with a garden fork or spade. Be careful not to damage the roots as you dig them up.

After harvesting, you can store your chicory roots in a cool, dry place for up to a month. You can also blanch the leaves by tying them up and covering them with a pot or a bucket. (This makes them less bitter and more tender.)

Chicory Nutritional Value

Chicory is a highly nutritious plant. It is chock full of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds. Here are some of the key nutrients found in chicory:


Chicory is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B-complex. These vitamins play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy body. They do everything from support your immune system to promote healthy skin and hair.


Chicory is also rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. These minerals are essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, regulating blood pressure, and promoting healthy muscle and nerve function.


Chicory is a good source of dietary fiber, which is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Fiber can help prevent constipation, lower cholesterol levels, and regulate blood sugar levels.


Chicory contains a variety of antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids. These compounds can help protect the body against damage from harmful free radicals, which may contribute to things like cancer and heart disease.

Other Compounds

Chicory also contains some other beneficial compounds, such as inulin and lactucin. Inulin (previously mentioned) is a type of prebiotic fiber that can promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Lactucin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

Overall, adding chicory to your diet can provide a range of health benefits. Whether you enjoy it as a coffee substitute or a salad green, it is a great way to boost your nutrient intake and support your overall health and wellbeing.

Caffeine Content in Chicory

If you’re looking for a caffeine-free alternative to coffee, chicory root may be a great option. Chicory root itself does not contain caffeine, so chicory coffee is naturally caffeine-free. However, if you mix chicory with coffee, the caffeine content will depend on the ratio of coffee to chicory.

According to Caffeine Park, adding chicory to coffee will result in about 38 mg of caffeine per 8 fl oz cup. This is significantly less caffeine than a regular cup of coffee, which can contain anywhere from 95 to 200 mg of caffeine per 8 fl oz cup.

The caffeine content of chicory coffee can also vary depending on the brand and the specific blend. Some coffee brands may add more or less chicory to their coffee blends.

If you’re looking to cut back on caffeine but still want the taste of coffee, chicory coffee may be a good bet. It has a similar taste and aroma to regular coffee, but without the jitters or caffeine crash that can come with consuming too much caffeine.

Chicory Coffee Health Benefits

Chicory is a versatile plant that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. As previously mentioned, it is a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can help improve your overall health. Here are some of the health benefits of chicory:

Digestive Health

Because chicory root is a rich source of inulin, it promotes the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Inulin helps regulate bowel movements and prevents constipation. It also helps reduce inflammation and may alleviate symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Heart Health

Chicory contains compounds that may help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. One study found that drinking chicory coffee for four weeks resulted in a significant reduction in blood pressure levels. Another study showed that chicory extract can help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.

Diabetes Management

Again, chicory root is a good source of inulin, which can help regulate blood sugar levels. Inulin slows down the absorption of glucose in the bloodstream. This makes chicory a great food for people with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition.

Other Culinary Uses for Chicory

Chicory is not just a great coffee substitute. It is also a versatile herb that can be used in various culinary applications. Here are some other ways you can use chicory:


Chicory leaves can be used in salads, either raw or cooked. The leaves have a slightly bitter taste and pair well with sweet and tangy dressings.

You can also mix chicory leaves with other salad greens, such as arugula or spinach, to balance out the flavors. For a warm salad, sauté chicory leaves with garlic and olive oil, then top with whatever tickles your fancy.


Chicory can also be used in cooking. It is especially popular in Mediterranean cuisine. The leaves and stems can be sautéed, grilled, or roasted, and used as a side dish or a bed for roasted meats.

You can also add chicory to soups and stews for extra flavor and nutrition. The root can be boiled or baked, then mashed and used as a substitute for potatoes or other starchy vegetables.

Potential Side Effects of Chicory

While chicory is generally considered safe for most people, there are a few potential side effects to consider Here are some of the possible side effects of consuming chicory:

  • May cause digestive issues: Consuming large amounts of chicory may cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. This is because chicory contains inulin, which can be difficult for some people to digest.
  • May interact with medications: Chicory may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners, diuretics, and antibiotics. If you are taking any medications, it is important to talk to your doctor before consuming chicory.
  • May cause allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to chicory, which can cause symptoms such as itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms after consuming chicory, seek medical attention immediately.
  • May be unsafe during pregnancy and breastfeeding: There isn’t much research on the safety of consuming chicory during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is best to avoid chicory during these times (or consult with a healthcare professional before consuming it).
  • May decrease fertility in men: Some studies suggest that consuming large amounts of chicory may decrease fertility in men. However, more research is needed to confirm this effect.
  • May decrease bone density: Some animal studies have found that consuming large amounts of chicory may decrease bone density. More research is needed to determine if this effect occurs in humans.
  • May interfere with iron absorption: Chicory contains compounds that may interfere with the absorption of iron. If you have an iron deficiency, it is best to consume chicory in moderation or talk to your doctor before consuming it.

Overall, chicory is considered safe and nutritious. As with anything, though, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects. If you experience any adverse reactions after consuming chicory, stop consuming it and seek medical attention if necessary.

How to Make Chicory Coffee

Easy Chicory Coffee Recipe

Recipe by Brew Me Like ThatCuisine: CoffeeDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





If you're looking for a coffee alternative that is both flavorful and healthy, chicory coffee might be just what you need. Here's how to make it:


  • 1 Cup Coffee Beans

  • 1/4 Cup Chicory Root

  • Water


  • Grind your coffee beans to a medium consistency and combine them with the chicory root. Start with a coffee to chicory ratio of 3:1 and adjust according to your taste.
  • Pour the grounds into the bottom of your French press.
  • Add a small amount of boiling water. Stir the grounds and let them sit for 30 seconds.
  • Fill the French press with hot water. Place the lid on the press and let it steep for 4-5 minutes.
  • Slowly press the plunger down to separate the grounds from the liquid.
  • Pour the coffee into your cup and enjoy!


  • This recipe calls for a French Press. However, you can use several other methods to brew your chicory coffee. Chicory coffee does have a slightly bitter taste, but it's also nutty and earthy. If you want to sweeten it up, add a little bit of honey or maple syrup!

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