What Is Chicory? Surprising Facts About This Obscure Plant

Surprising Facts About Chicory

If you’re setting out to cut back on your coffee consumption, then you already know how hard it’s. Of course, there are plenty of tea options out there.  But coffee drinkers know the taste and experience of tea are incomparable to that of coffee. That’s where Chicory comes in.

But, what is Chicory? Chicory is the root of the industrially cultivated plant Chicorium Intybus. Originally, Chicor (large chicory root) or chicoree (caf chicory) were common names for this root whose tastes range from bitter to sweet and are used in a wide variety of desserts.

It’s a great choice for people who are looking for a healthier alternative to traditional coffee drinks. Want to learn more about Chicory? Stay with us! 

What Is Chicory?

Now it’s time to open up the mysterious Chicory in detail. So, what is Chicory? Chicory is a flowering plant that is related to dandelions. It is native to Europe and North America but is now widespread across the world. 

According to plant science, Chicory is a herbaceous perennial plant that typically grows to a height of 1-2 feet. It has finely divided, lance-shaped leaves that are light green on the upper surface and dark green on the lower surface. The flowers are blue or pink and are pollinated by bees.

What Is Chicory

History of Chicory – At A Glance

As the chicory root is roasted and ground, it’s sifted into coffee to add sweet spices and bulk to its flavor that dates back to the 15th century.  Its history spread throughout Europe, and it became common to drink coffee with endive flavored powders.

Just as coffee began to be scarce several centuries ago, chicory root was used as a supplement over the centuries to certain historical symphonies. It was also used at times like coffee to supplant it altogether.

During that period, comedians, chefs, writers, intellectuals, and even musicians convinced people to incorporate this coffee into their daily rituals, although others didn’t consider it necessary in the beginning. 

In spite of that, Chicory took on a new life and became a widespread coffee sensation. Now, you can order this unique coffee’s amazing, darkly-roasted aroma in coffee shops everywhere.

What Is Chicory Used For?

Historically, one of the earliest uses of chicory roots appears to be to stop people from drinking coffee. Although chicory roots don’t have caffeine, they have a similar flavor profile to coffee beans. 

So, chicory root coffee may be a good option for people seeking a sweet-tasting cup of coffee with minimal caffeine. It’s first dry and then ground to make chicory root coffee. 

  • Today, instead of just a coffee alternative, Chicory is widely used in food, additives, and even medicine. Apart from dietary sources, some even use it as a highly concentrated tincture for medicinal purposes. 
  • While some might apply chicory tea topically to heal blemishes, others take advantage of it for gallbladder and liver disorders and high blood pressure.

It should be noted that ancient Greeks and Romans also called Chicory the Friend of the Liver, owing to the belief it was nutritious. 

Over time, Europeans using Chicory as animal feed began to develop the habit of disposing of these mild leaves before eating slightly older leaves.

What Is Chicory Root?

The chicory root is the tuberous root of the chicory plant. It has been used as a food and drink additive for centuries. In Europe, it’s often used in coffee drinks. However, in the United States, chicory root is most commonly used in cold beverages such as iced tea and iced coffee.

What Is Chicory Root

Nowadays, chicory root can be found in most supermarkets and can be ground into a powder to make coffee. In traditional medicine, chicory root is used as a stimulant and diuretic. 

It’s also used to treat liver problems, gallstones, and infertility. Aside from these, chicory root can be found in supplements and as a tea or tincture. 

What Is Chicory Root Fiber?

Regardless of whether you’re a frequent online shopper or just purchase your daily items from grocery stores, you might have heard about chicory root fiber at least once. But, what is chicory root fiber? Why it’s so popular?

Chicory root fiber is a type of soluble fiber. Soluble fibers are fibers that can be easily absorbed by the body and are known for their ability to help increase bowel regularity and reduce cholesterol levels.  

It has been shown to be effective in managing weight, lowering cholesterol levels, and helping to improve heart health. In addition, chicory root fiber can help reduce the risk of diabetes by helping to tighten up the skin’s blood vessels.

What Is Chicory Root Inulin?

Whenever you think about how chicory root can be so beneficial, the answer lies in its fiber content known as “inulin”. Chicory root inulin is a type of fiber that has been used for centuries as a natural food additive. 

It’s extracted from the roots of the chicory plant. Inulin has a low glycemic index, meaning it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels quickly. 

As a result, it can be used as an ingredient in foods that are meant to help people control their blood sugar levels, such as diabetes snacks and desserts. 

In addition to being used as a sweetener, inulin is also used as an ingredient in supplements and food products. Like other polysaccharides, inulin is a type of carbohydrate whose molecules can’t be digested by human digestive enzymes. 

Therefore, dietary inulin isn’t digested in the small intestine but instead travels through the colon (large intestine), feeding the microorganisms living there. 

What Is Chicory Root Powder?

Yes, your assumption is right. The chicory root powder is just the powdered form of chicory root to make it marketable and more edible. 

It’s often found as an ingredient in coffee and other hot beverages. This powder is a source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and B6, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Chicory powder has a bitter taste and is used to add flavor to coffee or tea.

What Does Chicory Look Like?

Chicory is one of the most common herbs you’ll see on grocery store shelves. This herb typically grows to 30-130 cm tall and has a root system that spreads horizontally. 


How To Eat Chicory Root

Chicory root is a bitter and umami-rich vegetable that can be enjoyed in many ways. Here are some tips on how to eat chicory root: 

  • Sliced or ground chicory root can be used as a condiment or flavoring in foods.
  • It can also be cooked into soups, stews, and other dishes
  • Chicory root tea can help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
  • The leaves of chicory can also be used as a vegetable dish in their own right or blended into other recipes to increase their flavor profile. 
  • Finally, chicory root extract is commonly used in food products as a natural preservative, colorant, and flavor enhancer.

Why Chicory Coffee Substitutes Are Beneficial?

If you’re looking for a chicory coffee substitute that’s both affordable and versatile, try using it in place of regular coffee beans in your favorite recipe.

Chicory Coffee Substitute

People have been drinking coffee for centuries, and as the world has gotten more and more crowded, more people have turned to chicory coffee as an alternative. But what if you just hate its bitter taste? Well, here are some alternatives to chicory coffee you can try. 

Kola Nut

Kola nut has a bittersweet taste, which can be less disagreeable than chicory root to those who don’t like its generally roasted taste. It may be ground and mixed with coffee to replicate the taste of chicory root. Unlike chicory root, kola nut does contain caffeine.

Yerba Mate

Possibility of trumpets, which is why you might wish to consider yerba mate instead of coffee. Yerba mate has a robust earthy flavor, evoking those of the coffee you’re accustomed to drinking. It also has a comparable source of caffeine.


Chocolate is a fine and effective additive when paired with a steaming hot beverage like coffee. Many people sense that chocolate and caffeine complement each other superbly and have reported that they believe the combination provides numerous health benefits.


Final Words

At this point, do you know what is Chicory? Hopefully yes. Reminiscing once again, Chicory is a herbaceous plant that has been used for centuries as a coffee substitute. 

It’s low in caffeine and can be enjoyed in various ways, including roasted as a coffee bean or brewed as a tea. Chicory is also rich in antioxidants, which makes it an excellent choice for those looking to boost their health.

Greetings, it's Xiver Atik (Atikur Rahman) here, A professional food author, recipe creator, recipe tester, and cooking instructor. Ever the creative, I intend to incorporate my passion for food, particularly dishes and customs, with my love of writing and the arts.