Chicory is a primarily a leafy vegetable – in its different varieties, it’s known as radicchio and endive. However, chicory has another very important culinary use. When roasted, chicory roots have a flavour very similar to that of coffee. Ground roasted chicory root has long been used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute or as a coffee additive. This isn’t common in Canada, but in Europe, India and the American south (particularly New Orleans), chicory in coffee has a long and interesting history. It was drunk widely by both sides during the American Civil War. And while it was once used during times of coffee scarcity or among people who couldn’t afford the real thing, its distinctive flavour is now enjoyed for its own sake.
For an authentic New Orleans coffee, try using 2/3 coffee and 1/3 chicory in your normal brewing process.