Chicory Coffee: A Surprisingly Good Coffee Substitute
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. So many people love the taste, caffeine buzz, and comforting aromas that a freshly brewed cup of coffee brings in the morning.
However, a growing number of people are looking to take their coffee consumption a step further, and seek out coffee substitutes and alternatives. This is because, whilst coffee does offer a great energizing effect thanks to the caffeine it contains, there are other substances that also deliver additional health benefits.
Products like Smart Coffee, Matcha Tea, and Mushroom Coffee are seen to have a range of health-promoting properties, like improving brain function, and digestion, and reducing inflammation.
So, where does Chicory coffee fit into the mix of coffee alternatives? Well, let’s find out!
What is Chicory Coffee?
You may be thinking, hang on… isn’t chicory a salad leaf?!
Well technically yes. But chicory coffee is actually made from the chicory root rather than the leaf you may have eaten with croutons!
Chicory coffee is produced using the root of the chicory plant. It is dry roasted and ground into a fine powder, so it can be used just like instant coffee. Ground chicory root is either added to boiling water on its own or combined with coffee to improve the taste. Chicory has a woody, earthy, and strong nutty taste, which is somewhat similar to coffee.
Whilst coffee alternatives like Chicory Coffee, Dandelion Coffee, and Barley Coffee are now drunk today for their health benefits, they were actually born out of necessity rather than want.
Many foodstuffs like these were popularised during the second world war when food shortages were very common across Europe. Rations and hampered supply chains meant that Europeans in particular had to look elsewhere to get that familiar coffee taste in the morning!
Chicory coffee in fact was historically popular in France, but was also consumed in New Orleans during the American Civil War, according to Healthline’s Rachel Links in her December 2021 article “Chicory Coffee: A Healthy Alternative to Coffee?”.
Benefits of Drinking Chicory Coffee
One of the main reasons that many people opt for a coffee substitute is that they are looking to reduce their overall caffeine intake across the day.
Caffeine definitely has its benefits in small doses, including increased alertness and reduced hunger. However, over-consuming caffeine can desensitize you as well as create addiction and even coffee anxiety!
Drinking a caffeine-free coffee alternative like chicory coffee not only does a great job of reducing your caffeine intake, but it also has a number of additional health benefits!
Thanks to its naturally woody and earthy flavor, chicory coffee can be drunk on its own, or paired with a regular coffee to enhance its taste.
As per Katherine Marengo’s June 2021 article “What to know about chicory coffee” in Medical News Today, here are some of chicory coffee’s major health benefits:
- Can help reduce blood sugar levels after eating
- Improves bowel function
- Can reduce cholesterol
- Contains calcium and magnesium
- Protects against inflammation and diabetes.
Referring back to Healthline’s Rachel Links in her December 2021 article “Chicory Coffee: A Healthy Alternative to Coffee?”, chicory coffee also:
- Is a good source of prebiotic fiber
- Can improve gut health
- Contains vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin C
- Can reduce constipation.
However, whilst many can benefit from consuming chicory, there are actually some downsides that may be associated with it too. As per both of the articles mentioned above, some people experience the following side effects from chicory:
- Allergic reaction
- Feeling faint.
With that being said, it is definitely worth consulting your doctor before adding chicory to your diet, so ensure you don’t suffer from any of the side effects listed above!
Ingredients and Nutrition of Chicory Coffee
Pure chicory coffee is simply made from ground and roasted chicory root, plain and simple. However, there are a number of brands that choose to supplement chicory root with instant coffee in order to improve the flavor.
Nescafe is one of those brands and I went for their Ricoffy mix for this review. Below are the ingredients listed in Nescafe Ricoffy:
How Does Chicory Coffee Taste?
The big question is, does chicory coffee actually taste good?!
Well, chicory root definitely has a strong earthiness and nuttiness to it, which complements the taste of freshly ground coffee beans very well. It pairs well with instant coffee, which is why Ricoffy and other chicory-based coffee drinks like it taste so good!
In terms of the flavor profile, chicory has a distinct earthiness that is more pronounced than regular coffee beans. When you first smell it, you are met with a dark, strong, savory aroma that is borderline meaty!
As far as taste goes, Ricoffy chicory coffee (which combines instant coffee with ground chicory root), is more subtle than first impressions. There is definitely an earthiness to it, but there is also a mellow nuttiness that shines through. Chicory coffee definitely smells dark and earthy than it tastes!
Nescafe is the world’s leading coffee brand. Owned by the food giant Nestle, Nescafe prides itself on offering top coffee at an affordable price. Nescafe is so huge, that its estimated valuation is around $12bn!
It is fair to say then that they know a thing or two about creating popular coffee, and this definitely holds true with their chicory-based Ricoffy. It is a very popular coffee alternative that tastes great, is convenient, and has a wide range of health benefits above and beyond regular instant coffee.
Should You Buy Chicory Coffee?
If you are looking to reduce your overall caffeine intake whilst improving your health at the same time, then using chicory coffee as a decaf alternative is a great choice. Whilst there are a few options out there to choose from, chicory coffee is one of the closest you’ll get in terms of taste to the real thing.
There are also a number of health benefits associated with consuming chicory root, including improved digestion, lowered blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol.
It is worth noting however that some people suffer from allergic reactions when consuming chicory, so definitely consult your doctor before adding it to your diet!
Overall, chicory coffee is a surprisingly good coffee alternative! From thinking that chicory was only served in salads, it is refreshing to experience the deep, earthy flavor that ground, roasted chicory root has to offer.
Whether consumed on its own or added to regular instant coffee, chicory tastes great and is actually a bit more subtle to taste than the initial smell would suggest.
Chicory has been consumed for centuries and has a number of health benefits associated with it. So, should you add chicory coffee to your diet? Well, if you are looking for a few extra benefits from your morning cup of joe, whilst also reducing your overall caffeine intake, then chicory coffee is a great option for you!
What are the Benefits of Chicory Coffee?
The benefits of consuming chicory include improved digestion, more regular bowel movements, reduced inflammation, lower cholesterol and improved gut health.
Is Chicory Coffee Better than Coffee?
Chicory has a number of additional health benefits above regular coffee, so is often seen as a health supplement rather than just a hot drink.
Can I Drink Chicory Coffee every day?
Yes, there is nothing wrong with drinking chicory every day, if you can stomach it! Most people can consume around 20g or so of chicory per day with no issues, and this is much less than you would find in a cup of chicory coffee. However, some people suffer from allergic reactions when drinking chicory coffee, so watch out!
What Are Chicory Side Effects?
Potential side effects of chicory coffee include allergic reactions, nausea, bloating, swelling, and tightness in the chest.