You may have a coffee substitute growing in your yard already. We already wrote about Cleavers, a more time consuming plant to harvest from but a relative of coffee.
Chicory is in the dandelion family and its root is roasted and used like coffee.
Historically whenever coffee gets scarce or expensive, chicory is a popular alternative. This dates back hundreds of years to France.
In the summer, you will recognize chicory by its blue or purple flowers. The greens are indistinguishable from dandelion greens to me and taste similar. The roots are East to break like carrots, so take care when digging them up to not break too much off. I had so much chicory growing in my lawn, I have not even scratched the surface of my supply with a week or two’s worth of drinks.
Once you dig them up, wash them thoroughly with a scrub brush. Them cut them into 1” long chunks. Any slimy or rotten looking ones you can toss.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spread out the pieces on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven for an hour and a half. You can check every fifteen minutes towards the end to make sure they do not get burnt. The white center on the pieces should darken a bit. Waiting until it is somewhat golden brown is ideal. Remove them from the oven and let them cool until you can pick them up just fine. As they are without much moisture content, this is faster than you would think.
Grab a handful or two and grind them in your blender until they match the consistency of your ideal coffee grounds. Since we make espresso, this was pretty fine. I did sift out the larger chunks to keep it extra fine.
Brew however you normally do coffee. You can also mix it with actual coffee to complement the flavor of coffee.
Chicory tastes more nutty than coffee. We made chicory lattes and they tasted more similar to coffee than we expected. You can tell the difference, but with flavoring, you might not notice much. In some parts of the world such as India, they regularly use chicory coffee blends. Experiment with blending it with coffee or as a substitute and see which you prefer.
Since chicory does not have caffeine, it should not affect your sleep. There are also many health benefits to chicory you can read about. One note is it is not recommended for pregnant women.
It is neat knowing that even if coffee gets scarce or too expensive, we can make a decent substitute of our favorite beverage.