Chicory coffee comes from the roasted and ground root of the chicory plant. It has a coffee-like taste but contains no caffeine.

Chicory coffee is gaining popularity as a caffeine-free coffee substitute due to its similar flavor. Research also suggests that chicory may possess health benefits and can help control blood sugar and improve digestive health. While evidence suggests that most people can tolerate it well, some reports suggest it may cause adverse side effects, such as severe allergic reactions, in some cases.

In this article, we will discuss the possible health benefits and side effects of chicory coffee, as well as how to drink it.

A person preparing chicory coffee.Share on Pinterest
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Chicory and coffee come from two different plants. Chicory coffee comes from Cichorium intybus, a herb that grows in the ground. While people may use the leaves of the plant for salads, they can also use the root to make chicory coffee.

Coffee comes from the fruit of plants called Coffea arabica. Because the fruit of coffee trees is the size of cherries, people refer to them as coffee “beans.”

Manufacturers grind and roast chicory root and either package it alone or add it to regular coffee to impart extra flavor. Since chicory root tastes similar to coffee, some people use it as a coffee substitute.

Both chicory root and coffee contain compounds that research has linked to potential health benefits. However, coffee also contains caffeine, which chicory root does not. Some people may wish to limit or cut caffeine from their diet, which may make chicory coffee a suitable alternative.

A 2015 study notes that chicory root is a rich source of the dietary fiber called inulin. Much of the research on the health benefits of chicory root focuses on this fiber. In a 4-week clinical trial involving 47 healthy adult participants, the research suggests that the potential health benefits of inulin may include:

  • Blood sugar: The HbA1c test is a measurement of a person’s blood glucose. It measures the amount of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen. The study suggests that chicory root improved HbA1c through suppression of the after-meal rise in blood sugar.
  • Cholesterol: Earlier research had suggested that chicory root can help improve cholesterol, but the researchers in the 2015 study did not observe this effect, possibly due to the shorter length of the study. However, chicory root appeared to increase the amount of adiponectin, a hormone that helps protect against the accumulation of fat in the walls of the arteries.
  • Body fat: In this study, chicory root did not significantly affect body weight or body fat. However, the percentage of body fat slightly increased in the placebo group.
  • Bowel function: Chicory root may help to improve fecal properties and bowel movements in some people.

The authors concluded that chicory root could be beneficial for helping to reduce high blood sugar and facilitating better bowel movements.

A 2020 review noted that in addition to the inulin content, chicory root also contains calcium, magnesium, and many plant chemicals such as phenolic acids. Evidence suggests that phenolic acids contain antioxidant properties and may help protect against heart disease, diabetes, and inflammation.

An older study also noted that chicory root may show some promise in reducing pain and stiffness in people with osteoarthritis. However, further research is still necessary.

While there is not much research available evaluating the safety of chicory root exclusively, evidence indicates that some substances present in chicory root may be harmful. For example, a 2018 study found that in addition to antioxidants, chicory root may contain some toxic substances. However, other research suggests that most people can tolerate chicory root well.

An older study found that while many people do not have negative reactions, some may experience adverse effects.

For example, chicory can cause allergic reactions in some people. A 2020 study notes that a person with allergies or eczema should be careful about consuming chicory root or having contact with it.

In addition, there are reports of some people experiencing anaphylaxis after ingesting the chicory root constituent inulin. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic response that can result in:

  • hives
  • throat swelling
  • trouble breathing
  • chest tightness
  • fainting

A 2017 study also notes that more research is necessary to investigate the safety of chicory root in people that are pregnant.

Many studies indicate that chicory coffee may possess several health benefits, and most research suggests people tolerate it well. Due to its similarity in taste to coffee and the fact it does not contain caffeine, it could make a suitable alternative for people who are sensitive to caffeine or those who want to reduce their caffeine intake.

However, more research is necessary to prove its safety.

People should consider speaking with their doctor before using herbal products, especially if they have allergies or are pregnant.

A person may buy ground chicory coffee online, or in a supermarket or health stores. To brew it, people will just need to follow the directions on the package.

Alternatively, an individual can make it from scratch at home using the below directions:

  1. Buy chicory root from the grocery store.
  2. Wash and dry the root, then cut it in pieces with a knife.
  3. Arrange the pieces on a baking dish and bake in the oven at roughly 350°F or 180°C until they are golden brown.
  4. Mince finely.
  5. Bring 1 cup of water to boil and add 1–2 tablespoons minced chicory root.
  6. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  7. Strain the liquid into a cup and drink.
  8. Add honey and milk if desired.

Chicory coffee is a beverage that comes from the root of the chicory plant. It is gaining popularity as a coffee substitute because it has a similar flavor but contains no caffeine. Some research adds that it may also have some health benefits, and may help control blood sugar and improve bowel movements.

However, while research suggests most people tolerate chicory root well, some people, such as those with allergies, may have an adverse reaction to drinking chicory coffee. Therefore, it may be advisable to speak with a doctor before trying chicory coffee.