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Coffee substitutes typically have no caffeine and are made from cereals or other foods. Some people do not drink coffee for medical or other reasons and look for a coffee substitute that is still an enjoyable, warm beverage. Some popular coffee substitutes include tea, grain coffee and chicory root.
Chicory root is one of the best known coffee substitutes. The root of the blue-flowering chicory plant, Cichorium intybus, has been roasted, ground and used as a coffee substitute whenever coffee prices were too high or when coffee wasn't even available such as during the American Civil War. Chicory root has a strong-flavored quality to it after roasting that is somewhat similar to the flavor of roasted coffee, and it contains no caffeine.
Some coffees are sold with chicory added to lower the amount of caffeine. Chicory is one of the most economical coffee substitutes as a relatively small amount of it is needed. Also, chicory is thought to have a positive affect on the liver as well as have blood cleansing qualities. Chicory is also a multi-purpose plant as the leaves can be eaten raw in a salad and the boiled root can be eaten as a cooked vegetable.
Grain coffees are coffee substitutes that are blends of foods such as grains and nuts. Grain coffees are meant to be used in a coffee maker, but many of these blends can taste quite bitter. Ingredients in grain coffees may include barley, almonds, asparagus, dandelion root and figs. Acorns used in coffee substitutes can make the beverage taste especially bitter. Sweetly flavored grain coffees tend to be the most popular type.
Many people just use green tea and/or herbal teas as a substitute for coffee. Tea beverages taste nothing like coffee, but many who start replacing some of their daily cups of coffee with cups of tea can often transition right to drinking tea only. Black teas contain high amounts of caffeine, but green teas and most herbal teas do not and these teas are popular coffee substitutes. Decaffeinated products are often not recommended as some of their processing methods are thought to possibly be carcinogenic.
Chicory coffee is still a staple in many parts of the South and that goes back to the War Between the States as the author correctly points out. Embargoes meant that coffee was in short supply during the South, so chicory was a way to make coffee last longer or act as a total substitute.
Chicory adds such a "smooth" element to coffee that we in the South didn't abandon it when coffee became available. No, it seems we've developed a taste for it has found a nice little niche in our culture.
If you haven't tried coffee cut with a little chicory, give it a shot.
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