Photo: mharvey.nyc, Flickr
Chicory, a member of the endive family (I know, right?), has long been used as an additive or even a substitute for coffee. When baked or cooked, the chicory's roots take on a dark-chocolaty bitterness not unlike darker-roasted coffee -- very handy during hard times like the Great Depression, when coffee was an out-of-reach luxury for many Americans. Although it isn't caffeinated, chicory's roots (and edible leaves) can be potent enough to snap unsuspecting taste buds to attention, and because the roasted root is more water soluble than ground coffee beans, the resulting brew tends to be quite a bit thicker than your average cup of joe.
How do you make chicory coffee? Read on after the jump to find out.
Coffee brewed with chicory is most often associated with New Orleans, thanks to the famous coffee-and-beignets spot Café Du Monde, but variations can be found throughout the South, as well as in parts of Asia, and the combination is said to be of French origin, courtesy of Napoleon's coffee-desperate and deprived troops.
The traditional New Orleans–style chicory coffee is served au lait style: half coffee, half steamed milk. Café Du Monde even sells the famous mixture by the can, so you can bring the French Quarter to your kitchen. But why waste time with prepackaged stuff when you can get the real McCoy yourself? Sweet Maria's sells imported, roasted chicory that you can blend to your heart's (and tongue's) content.
Erin Meister trains baristas for North Carolina-based Counter Culture Coffee and sporadically maintains the blog Meet the Press Pot from her home in New York City. This is part of a series for the caffeine-addicted.