If you are a coffee enthusiast, a coffee novice, or somewhere in the middle, you have most likely heard of this term and definitely tried it. This one is a unique variation of the classic coffee beverage carrying a lot of medicinal attributes along. We're talking about a small plant that has changed the course of the coffee history. Yes, we're talking about chicory. Many people use chicory roots in their coffee, which adds a nutty flavour to their morning brew. Though it causes much debate among true coffee enthusiasts, many people enjoy it because of how it adds richness to their coffee. So let us delve into the world of chicory to learn about its origin, history, and benefits, shall we?
What is Chicory?
Chicory, scientifically known as Cichorium intybus, is a blue flowered, woody, and herbaceous plant in the Dandelion family. Chicory is native to Africa, temperate and tropical Asia, and Europe, among other places. Chicory is mainly cultivated for its leaves and roots in parts of the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, and North America. Chicory roots are dried, roasted and grounded before being added to coffee as an additive or used as a coffee substitute. Chicory is naturally caffeine-free, making it an excellent choice for those looking to reduce their caffeine consumption. Some people add chicory roots to hot water to make a caffeine-free beverage, while others put a small amount of chicory in their regular coffee to make it less caffeinated.
The unique combination of coffee chicory ratio varies among individuals. However, it is critical that we thoroughly understand the coffee chicory before attempting to make one. Read this article to gain a better understanding of coffee chicory ratios - Guide To Coffee Chicory Ratio
“By the combination of a little chicory with coffee the flavour of the coffee is not destroyed, but there is added to the infusion, a richness of flavour, and a depth of colour — a body, which renders it to very many people much more welcome as a beverage" — Charles Dickens
History of coffee and chicory
Around the world
In 1750, chicory was roasted and mixed with coffee for the first time in Holland. In 1785, the governor of Massachusetts, James Bowdoin, was the first to introduce chicory to the United States. But it wasn't until 1801 when introduced to France by two men M.Obran of Liege and M Giraud of Homing, that it became an instant hit and people began to love this coffee substitute. By 1860, France was exporting 16 million pounds of chicory.
How did the world-famous variation make its way to India? As of now, there are no exact statistics pointing to the correct history of chicory being brought to India. Some claim that the French introduced it, but many believe that the British were instrumental in establishing chicory coffee in India. . In the late 18th century, the coffee chicory essence was introduced and became known as 'camp coffee’. This camp coffee is nothing more than a Scottish beverage product made up of a secret blend of water, sugar, 4% caffeine-free coffee essence, and 26% chicory essence.
As a result, the popular drink in France was later adopted by the British in India. But how did this mysterious concoction affect South India? When the British introduced Chicory to India as a secret Scottish blend, Indians embraced it, especially South Indian soldiers serving in World War II during a time when coffee was rationed. They developed a distinct flavour for this recipe over time. When these soldiers returned to Madras, they established their own military messes and hotels and began selling this secret blend, but with the addition of milk and sugar. Filter coffee then spread from roadside stalls to South Indian households, where everyone developed their own filter coffee recipe. They began to elevate the flavour of this beverage, resulting in the most popular authentic filter coffee that we consume now.
Read this blog to know more about how to brew the perfect traditional filter coffee-the south Indian way here.