Does Chicory Make Coffee Bitter? Know the Facts
You might have come across chicory coffee in boutique coffee shops or in a specialty coffee shop. And you might wonder what exactly is “chicory” and how does it affect the coffee taste? Does chicory make coffee bitter?
Yes, adding chicory can make your coffee taste bitter. Raw chicory root by itself is bitter, so when you add it to coffee it can make it more bitter. But adding chicory can also give your coffee a nutty or woody flavor – which some people like. Depending on how much chicory you add to your coffee, it can either barely be noticeable or taste entirely different.
Chicory is a plant that blooms pretty nicely, and its root has been linked to a lot of health benefits. Its connection to coffee draws back to Napoleon’s time. Coffee was expensive then and chicory was mixed with coffee grounds to lower the price.
But today people choose to drink it. In some parts of the world, people prefer it to coffee. You can make a hot drink made entirely out of chicory root, or mix it with coffee.
Let’s learn more about chicory and why it is added to coffee.
What Is Chicory?
Chicory is a plant whose root has been known to have many health benefits. During Napoleon’s time, coffee was scarce in France due to political tensions with the British. This means the coffee they did have was very expensive.
To make it cheaper, they mixed it with roasted chicory root. Chicory was also used as a complete substitute for coffee and produced a drink that has a somewhat bitter, nutty, and woody taste. At some point, chicory was even called “a poor man’s coffee”, due to its low price and availability in Europe.
However, today chicory coffee is becoming more and more popular. If you even find yourself in New Orleans, don’t be surprised to hear that people there actually prefer it (especially at Cafe Du Monde). This is mainly due to its health benefits, but also its taste, which resembles real coffee.
Among other health benefits, chicory coffee may improve your digestive health, lower your blood sugar, and may decrease inflammation.
What Does Chicory Coffee Taste Like?
A general misconception is that chicory coffee is very bitter. So let’s clear this up. Chicory root is roasted and then ground. While roasted, a lot of the bitter taste of the chicory root is lost. I say a lot because some of it will remain.
But if you were to make a cup of hot drink entirely out of roasted chicory root, you end up with a tasty beverage with a woody, nutty, maybe even a bit chocolatey, and somewhat bitter taste. Chances are you won’t mind the mildly bitter taste. But that depends on your preferences and palate sensitivity.
Adding chicory will result in basically making flavored coffee. The flavors you get will be nutty, woody, and a bit chocolaty. There might be a bitter note in there, depending on the roasting, and the chicory root, but it will be very subtle. All in all, the chicory taste goes well with coffee.
The next question is if chicory drink is so good, why are we mixing it with coffee?
People Like Caffeine
There is a downside to this, which is: chicory is not coffee. Chicory doesn’t contain any caffeine, so it doesn’t have the stimulating effect coffee does. It actually has a calming effect. On its own, chicory is basically tea that tastes like coffee. This is why chicory is usually mixed with coffee.
The ratio can vary. If you make your own, the ratio can be from 1 to 5 to 5 to 1, depending on your tastes. You can always go lower or higher on either side. If you buy, you might be stuck with the available choices, but they usually go from 20% chicory root and up.
As the chicory root ratio rises, the taste of the coffee might become a bit nuttier, woody, and a bit bitter. The caffeine however will lower, if there is more chicory than coffee in the mix.
Is Chicory Coffee Stronger Than Regular Coffee?
Well, no. Chicory doesn’t contain any caffeine, so mixing chicory in your coffee might result in a weaker cup as opposed to making a clean cup of coffee.
The taste of it is different, and some people even prefer it. But considering it doesn’t have any caffeine in it, you might want to keep the chicory coffee mix leaning towards a bigger coffee ratio.
If you want to lower your daily caffeine intake, then chicory is your friend. You can add chicory to your favorite coffee and that will lower the strength. It will also add a nutty and woody taste which makes for a great cup of coffee.
Where To Buy Chicory Coffee?
Depending on where you are, chicory coffee can be either very accessible or very scarce. In Louisiana, people actually prefer chicory coffee to 100% coffee. So it makes sense that chicory coffee is available pretty much everywhere.
If you live in a bigger town, chances are specialty coffee shops will have a chicory coffee blend for you to buy. Depending on the store, your options might be limited, but still there.
Some boutique coffee shops even make their own batch of chicory coffee that you can enjoy on the spot.
Online shopping is always your safe bet. You can buy your coffee online and you are bound to have more choices available to you.
Make sure you try different brands with different chicory to coffee ratio. That way you can discover what you like and what you don’t. Plus when you try different brands you will start being more objective of the chicory taste rather than judging it by the first brand you tried.
How To Make Chicory Coffee?
If you can’t find any store-bought chicory blend coffee and want to make your own, then that’s fine too. Because it can be very specific, chicory coffee can be either hard or very easy to find, depending on where you live. But chicory root can be very common at markets.
Making your own chicory to mix with coffee is easy and it is a cheaper alternative to buying an expensive premium quality blend.
The first thing to do is to wash the roots nicely and peel them. They need to be as clean as they can get. After that, you need to cut them into small pieces. The pieces should be approximately the same size. This will help during roasting. If the pieces are about the same size, they will roast evenly.
To roast them, you can use any shallow pan you have in the house. To make sure they don’t burn, place a baking sheet at the bottom.
First, you need to dehydrate the chicory.
You do this by roasting it at about 200°F for about an hour and a half. Then you can raise the temperature to 300°F and then roast them until brown.
When roasting, the chicory will smell like potatoes, chocolate, coffee, or a mix of all three.
After it’s roasted, you can grind the chicory in a grinder or with a blade chopper. The grind doesn’t have to be too smooth in order to brew it.
And now you are ready to mix chicory in your coffee to add the extra flavor. The most common ratio is 2:1 coffee to chicory, but it all depends on your preference, so make sure you try different recipes.
Adding chicory to your usual blend is a great way to get flavored coffee. Chicory has nutty, woody, almost chocolaty notes that go well with coffee. Contrary to popular belief, chicory won’t add a distinctive bitterness to your coffee. Sure, it does have a bitter note to it, but it is very subtle.
This is because, when it is roasted, the chicory root loses almost all bitterness, leaving you only the tasty parts. That is why proper roasting is important when making your own chicory blend.
Chicory also has some health benefits and is even considered a healthier alternative for coffee. It can help with digestive health, lowering your blood sugar, and helps with inflammation.
However, it does not contain any caffeine. This means it doesn’t have the stimulating effect that coffee does, but it is rather a relaxant. So you might not want to switch to pure chicory coffee completely. Unless you are actively trying to lower your caffeine intake.
In my opinion, just adding chicory to your coffee gives you the best of both worlds. There are some store-bought blends that you can buy that already have chicory in them. These might be easy or hard to find, depending on where you live. But if you cannot find them in your local coffee shop, you can always do some online shopping.
Another alternative is making your own chicory coffee mix. And don’t worry, it is easy to do. You can get chicory root at the market. Then you need to wash and peel it. Cut it into small pieces and roast it for some time.
After that, you can put it in the grinder or cutter. And mix it with your coffee. Keep in mind that chicory doesn’t have any caffeine in it, so adding chicory to your coffee will lower its strength. When making your own chicory coffee the most popular coffee to chicory ratio would be 2 to 1, but feel free to experiment depending on your preference.
For example, a lot of store-bought chicory coffee has about 20% chicory root. We hope you found this article informative and useful.
Stay caffeinated friends!