A spoon with powder chicory coffee powder with blue flowers.

Is chicory coffee a good alternative to coffee?

A morning cuppa is as natural as waking up for some people. But if the acid or caffeine in coffee is negatively affecting you, it might be time to look elsewhere for a beverage. Chicory coffee has been around for over 200 years1 but it has become more popular in recent years, as people become more health conscious.

In this article, we explore whether chicory coffee is a good alternative to a good old-fashioned cup of joe.

What is chicory coffee?

Chicory coffee is a drink made from the chicory root, which is roasted, ground and brewed.

The root comes from the chicory plant, which is a perennial plant with purple flowers and a tough, hairy stem, which is common in North America and Europe.2 Chicory leaves and flowers are often used in salads and go well with rich cheeses, nuts and fruits. They can also be roasted and sauteed.3

You can buy pure, ground chicory drinks or one which mixes chicory with a small amount of coffee, if you wish to gradually reduce the amount of caffeine you consume.

Where did chicory coffee originate?

It is believed that chicory coffee originated in France during a coffee shortage in the 1800s.

During the Civil War, people started drinking chicory coffee in New Orleans, when one of their ports was cut off and they experienced a shortage of coffee.4 The mixture of chicory and coffee is still very popular in New Orleans to this day.5

The benefits of drinking chicory coffee instead of coffee

There are a few reasons why you might choose to drink chicory coffee instead of your normal caffeinated coffee:

Chicory coffee contains inulin

Chicory root contains 68% dry inulin.6 Inulin is a prebiotic which feeds the good bacteria in your stomach. These can help support existing bacteria in your gut microbiome. 7 Inulin is a type of non-digestible soluble fibre which can also help soften and bulk stools all signs of a healthy digestive system.8

Chicory coffee is caffeine free

If you want to cut down on your caffeine intake, then chicory coffee could be a good option for you, since it does not contain any caffeine.

Caffeine is safe when consumed in low and moderate amounts but when too much is consumed, it can lead to side effects including anxiety, insomnia and digestive issues.9

For a caffeine-free drink, use pure roasted chicory root powder. You can also try mixing chicory root with a small amount of coffee, if you still want a small amount of caffeine.

Chicory coffee contains nutrients

Chicory roots contains a wide range of essential micronutrients, including potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese, which help to support metabolism, immunity and bone health. When chicory coffee is made, only a small amount of chicory root is brewed into it and therefore the nutrients contained in it are fairly low.10

What does chicory coffee taste like?

One thing which you might be concerned about when making the switch is what chicory root coffee tastes like.

The aromatic, vibrant flavour of coffee is something that many people enjoy. So can a chicory coffee substitute live up to that?

Whilst it does not taste exactly the same as ground coffee beans, it is quite similar. It has an intense flavour, which can be described as warm, nutty, woody and earthy.

The chicory taste is not for everyone but some people do enjoy the taste of chicory coffee more than regular coffee.

Are there any side effects associated with chicory coffee?

Some people may unknowingly be allergic to chicory and it could cause reactions with symptoms like pain, swelling and tingling.11 Anyone who is allergic to ragweed or birch pollen should also avoid chicory.12 If you are pregnant, you should also avoid chicory coffee, as drinking it has been associated with miscarriages and menstrual bleeding.13 There has been limited research into the effects of chicory coffee on women who are breastfeeding and therefore it is best to avoid it.14

Should you replace your usual coffee with chicory coffee?

Chicory coffee has shown to be a good alternative to coffee, thanks to its nutrient content and the fact that it is caffeine free.

You should be aware of potential side effects but, if you are looking for a credible coffee alternative, then why not give it a go?

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Last Updated: 5th February 2021

7 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chicory-root-fiber#1.-Packed-with-the-prebiotic-fiber-inulin 8 https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a30728369/chicory-root-coffee-benefits/

9 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-side-effects#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4
10 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chicory-coffee#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3

11 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19639727/ 12 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12759485/ 13 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11950176/ 14 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chicory-coffee#TOC_TITLE_HDR_8

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Bhupesh Panchal

Bhupesh Panchal,
Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.