I recently tasted New Orleans Chicory Blend coffee for the first time. This is an American coffee usually made with a dark roast coffee and chicory.
My first question was, "What is chicory?"
Chicory is a perennial bushy herb; it is the common name for curly endive. It is part of the dandelion family. While the leaves are used in salads, it is the root of the plant that is mixed with dark roast coffee. The root needs to dried, roasted, and ground. When brewed, it becomes syrupy and bitter and tastes nothing like coffee.
Now my next question is, "Why use it?"
The Germans began using chicory as a coffee substitute in the 18th century to avoid the tax on foreign luxury items. Napoleon had a plan to make Europe self-sufficient; the best substitute the French could find for coffee (because it is not widely grown in Europe, if at all) was chicory. It was the French settlers that brought chicory to the southern United States. Chicory has been used widely in the United States to "stretch" coffee when money is scarce.
And my third question: "What does it taste like?"
New Orleans Chicory Blend coffee has an earthy, sweet aroma. It is full-bodied with a fair amount of acidity. I found the flavor to be a bit bitter. But I suppose the end result would depend on just how much chicory is used. (The standard ratio is 2 parts coffee to 1 part chicory).
Chicory has no caffeine, so if you’re watching your caffeine intake, but don’t like decaffeinated coffee, adding chicory may be an option for you.
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