One of the questions I get asked the most about the autoimmune Paleo protocol (AIP) is what can I drink if I can’t have coffee?
Coffee has become so entrenched in our habits that we’ve become addicted not only to the daily dose of caffeine it offers us but also to that aromatic smell that wakes our senses every morning. So, what do you do if you’re starting AIP and have to forgo coffee for 30-60 days if not longer?
A reader emailed me about chicory root coffee a while back, but I didn’t see it for sale until a few weeks ago. So, I decided to give this naturally non-caffeinated AIP-compliant “coffee” substitute a try.
AIP Coffee Substitutes
If tea isn’t a good AIP coffee substitute for you, then definitely give roasted chicory root “coffee” a try. However, if you’re a coffee snob, then please don’t get your hopes up that this is going to replace your high-end espresso or drip brew coffee.
What is Roasted Chicory Root
Roasted chicory root is literally the roasted roots of the chicory plant, and they’re pretty popular in Europe as a coffee-substitute (although it’s growing in popularity in the US now). Below is a photo of the chicory flower.
Many people like to add roasted chicory root to regular coffee to enhance the coffee flavor and color (e.g., a typical recipe uses 2/3 regular coffee and 1/3 roasted chicory root), and in desperate war times, chicory root has also been used as a cheap alternative to regular coffee.
Because roasted chicory roots “coffee” isn’t made from a bean (like regular coffee), it is AIP-friendly.
Granules or Roots?
You can generally buy 100% chicory root in 2 forms:
First, you can buy it as the roasted roots of the plant, in which case you put it into into a tea strainer and brew it in hot water for 7-10 minutes or you can make it in a French press. If you want to buy the pure roasted chicory roots, then you can buy them on Amazon here.
Alternatively, you can buy Instant Chicory Coffee, which is the type I found at the store. Basically, they brew the chicory coffee for you, then dry it to get the dried flavor granules. So, for instant chicory coffee, all you have to do is add hot water to those dried granules.
What does Roasted Chicory Root Taste Like?
While I like roasted chicory root as a drink and it does share some similar tastes to coffee, it’s not really the same as coffee. It just doesn’t have that amazing aroma that coffee has.
It looks like coffee and it has a slightly bitter earthy flavor similar to coffee, but that’s really where the similarities end. Having said that, if you typically enjoy your coffee with coconut milk or almond milk, then you might find roasted chicory root to be a decent replacement. Also, if you’re desperate for a cup of coffee when you’re on AIP, then definitely give this a try. Just bear in mind that it’s not the same!
Health Benefits of Roasted Chicory Root “AIP Coffee”
- May Help with Digestion
Chicory root contains inulin, which is a prebiotic (i.e., the fiber that probiotics feed on in your gut). So, it can promote healthy gut bacteria growth. However, it could cause some digestive issues like gas and bloating if you take in too much inulin or if you have preexisting issues like IBS.
- Low in Sugar
Chicory root has hardly any sugar, which makes it a good option if you have blood sugar issues. Most of the carbohydrates in chicory root is inulin, which isn’t digestible.
- Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties
Some studies have suggested that chicory root may have antibacterial and antifungal properties, but more research needs to be done to show anything definitive.
- High in Antioxidants
A few studies have also looked into the benefits of chicory roots due to their antioxidant content.
Have you tried roasted chicory root coffee? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below whether you liked roasted chicory root coffee.