Dandelion coffee is a hot beverage made using the ground roots of dandelions rather than traditional coffee beans. The resulting brew does not have caffeine but otherwise has a remarkably similar aroma and flavor to coffee, contains antioxidants, and can also be used as a laxative. It is typically made using roots that have been gathered, cleaned, dried out and roasted, then ground and used in the same way as ground coffee in a coffee maker. Dandelion coffee can be made quite easily in most homes, though it is also commercially available and sold at many major supermarkets and grocery stores.
Also called dandelion tea, dandelion coffee is a caffeine-free substitute for coffee that includes a number of potential health benefits as well. Dandelion roots are fairly rich in antioxidants and contain other vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, and vitamin A. Much like coffee, the dandelion brew is a diuretic and will usually increase urination after drinking. The bitterness of the dandelion coffee will also cause a drinker’s stomach to produce more acids which can help alleviate constipation. This can, however, also cause upset stomach and diarrhea as potential side effects, so some caution should be taken when enjoying dandelion coffee for the first time.
To make homemade dandelion coffee, dandelion roots need to be harvested by digging the plants up out of the ground. Wild dandelions can have fairly thin roots, but dandelions that are encouraged to grow in looser soil can have thicker roots that often are better for coffee making. The leaves of dandelions are quite edible and can be cut off and washed during harvesting for use in salads. Dandelions tend to store nutrients in their roots during early spring and late fall, coming out of and leading into winter, so harvesting at this time can often provide the best potential nutrient value in the coffee.
The roots should be cut off from the plants and cleaned thoroughly. This can be done with gentle scrubbing for each individual root, or repeated submersion of numerous roots in a large bucket of water. Once clean, the roots can then be cut into smaller pieces and ground in a food processor to a smaller consistency. These ground root pieces are then spread out onto one or more baking sheets and placed inside an oven heated to about 250° F (about 121° C) for about two hours.
During baking, the ground roots should be stirred occasionally to prevent burning, and the oven door should be left open to allow moisture to escape. Once dried out and roasted to the desired color, the roots are removed and allowed to cool. The root pieces can then be ground in a coffee grinder or food processor and used the same way as ground coffee beans to produce dandelion coffee.