Roasted dandelion, chicory and cacoa nib coffee

by Danielle Charles

Today was one of those delicious rainy autumn days, where you feel perfectly content to curl up with a good book and a cup of something hot.  I’ve been experimenting lately with some roasted dandelion coffee blends, and today I think I found a winner. The brew is slightly chocolaty, complex, dark and almost nutty with a hint of earthy bitterness – a most perfect accompaniment to my rainy day coziness.

Dandelion, cacoa and chicory are all great sources of the bitterness we need this time of year to ground ourselves and strengthen  our roots – and by roasting them, we warm up some of the cooling effects of the bitter taste and make them more nourishing and sweet. The bitterness gently tonifies our entire digestive tract, enhancing the secretion of all digestive juices and ensuring we extract the nutrition from the foods we eat. This digestive stimulation also includes supporting the detoxification work of our livers – which can get botched up by all the heavy foods we tend to favor as the weather cools. The polysaccharide inulin, found in dandelion and chicory, supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in our guts. In short, our whole digestive tract, the center and real “root” of our health, is made very very happy!

The cocoa I like to add for mostly for the gentle stimulation and uplifting impact on the nervous system, which is so helpful for the gray weather blahs that can set in this time of year. Of course you also simultaneously benefit from the plethora of antioxidant polyphenols, the cardiovascular protective effects, and cocoa’s ability to strengthen immune function. (Honestly, I came up with all these reasons after the fact – I really just add cocoa because its delicious!).

You can easily make roasted dandelion and chicory root yourself, although I must admit I cheated a bit and ordered mine pre-roasted from Mountain Rose Herbs. To make yourself, harvest fresh dandelion roots and chicory roots (they are fairly prolific in most yards, and the chicory can be recognized this time of year by those beautiful blue flowers). Wash and scrub the roots well, getting as much grit and dirt off as you can, then chop them into small pieces. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment, and bake in a preheated oven at 250 degrees F until they are nicely shriveled, darkened in color and completely dried out. This process takes about 2 hours, and you will need to stir them from time to time to ensure even drying.

Once you have your ingredients  roasted and ready to go, simply combine the following in a small bowl:

  • 1 cup roasted dandelion
  • 1 cup cocoa nib
  • 1/2 cup roasted chicory root
  • Optional: 1/4 cup hulled cardamom or ginger root

Mix everything together well, then place into a tightly capped jar for storage. When ready to use, coarsely grind a few tablespoons in the coffee grinder. Add 1-2 heaping teaspoon per cup of hot water into a French press or teapot (you can use just like coffee grounds in a regular auto-drip coffee pot or stove top espresso maker as well). Pour hot water over the mixture, let infuse for 5 minutes or so until the liquid becomes a rich and dark brown, then press or strain.

Serve with your favorite milk (I especially like almond milk with this drink), a splash of maple syrup to sweeten if desired, and  a little sprinkling of cinnamon or cardamom powder over the top. Curling up under your comfiest quilt with a good book is highly recommended, but optional.