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How to Grow Coffee in Your Home Garden | Almanac.com

How to Grow Coffee in Your Home Garden

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Chicory Coffee
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Dariia Belkina

Growing Coffee from Chicory Roots and Dandelion Roots

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If you’re a morning coffee drinker, here’s a fun, caffeine-free alternative for the afternoon. We’re talking about both chicory and dandelion coffee. Grow your own roots from seed in the spring. Learn how.

Chicory Coffee

Chicory produces a lovely deep taproot, and it’s this we’ll be making our coffee from. It grows wild in many regions and is easily identified during the growing season by its pretty blue flowers and in winter by the remains of the old flower stalks. 

You’ll sometimes find chicory growing at a field scale like this because it’s a superbly resilient, drought-resistant plant, which makes it a great, low-fuss option for feeding livestock.

The roots go down quite deep, so to dig them up without snapping them, it’s important to work a garden fork all the way around the plant to loosen the soil. Then, you can carefully ease the root up.

It goes without saying, ask permission before digging plants up on someone else’s land or, better still, grow them yourself, which we’ll talk about in a moment.

Fresh chicory root with leaves and flowers. Credit: Madeleine Steinbach

Cleaning and Roasting Chicory

Once you’ve dug up chicory roots, cleaning them is simple. Wash them off with a hose and then in a bucket of water. Scrub clean using this brush and some fresh water. 

It is easier to brush off the dirt if you keep the foliage to grab hold of, but with everything clean, you can cut the top growth off to leave just the clean roots.

Now, cut them into thin slices, which will make it easier for them to dry out… the next essential step towards your coffee.

There are two ways to dry the roots: 

  1. Spread roots onto a mesh screen and pop them into a dehydrator set to high. They’ll stay in here till shriveled – about 12 hours. 
  2. Or, pop roots into an oven set to a low heat – about 200 Fahrenheit or 90 Celsius for an hour or two. If you’re using an oven, shake or stir the pieces of root every 15 minutes to get an even dry.

Next up: roasting! Pop the dried root pieces into the oven, set to 350 Fahrenheit or around 175 Celsius. This is where the real magic happens. As the roots roast to a golden-brown hue, they’ll waft out the most delicious smell and take on all those deep flavors. It’s like alchemy—turning what was a scratchy old root into a really rather delicious drink! 

Roast them for around 20 to 45 minutes. The exact time will depend on the size of the pieces of root. Check on them from time to time, especially when you can start to smell them. Give them a bit of a shake for an even roast. Once they’re part golden, part browned, they’re good to come out.

With the roasted roots now cool, it’s… grind time! Pop the roots into a grinder and whizz them up. And there we have it: chicory coffee! This can be used just like any other coffee: in a cafetiere, filtered, or however you prefer.

Psst. If you have extra coffee grounds, give them back to the Earth! Here are 15 uses for coffee grounds.

Chicory Coffee and Beignets. A classic New Orleans treat. Credit: SnowWhte64

Dandelion Coffee

Dandelion needs no introduction. It’s one of our most prevalent ‘weeds’ – and I say ‘weeds’ in quote marks because this is one of the most wonderful wildflowers. 

They’re the gardener’s friend, not foe. Bees love the sunny blooms and every bit of it, from the root to the flowers, and, of course, the leaves are edible. And let’s not forget that they are good for us humans! See dandelion’s health benefits.

We’re not going to talk about how to grow them because you probably have these “weeds” or have neighbors who will be only too happy to part with their dandelions!

Did you know Victorian aristocrats loved this humble lawn weed so much that they would grow it separately as a prized salad crop? Imagine that! And did you know that the word ‘dandelion’ comes from the French dents de lion, or ‘lion’s teeth’? If you look at the spiky edges of its leaf, you can see exactly how it got this name.

Digging out dandelion roots is the same as chicory, though you could use something like this weeding tool here to get right down without tearing up the whole lawn! 

The roots are then washed, dried, roasted, and ground as before. Again, that means chopping the roots into small pieces, dehydrating them, and roasting them at 350 Fahrenheit or 170 to 180 Celsius for 20 to 45 minutes.

When you roast these roots, you may notice the incredible, sweet smell they release—almost like chocolate brownies or cake. It’s rather irresistible!  

You can also store these ground roots in a labeled, airtight container, just like I would any other coffee grounds.

See our recipe for Dandelion Root Coffee.

Dandelion Coffee. Credit: Milenberry

How to Grow Chicory Root

It’s easy to grow your own chicory root! You can buy the seeds from many online nurseries. (Just Google it.)

  1. Sow seeds in the spring into rows about a foot or 30cm apart. Then, thin the seedlings to around 8 inches or 20cm apart. 
  2. Or, start the seeds off in pots of all-purpose potting mix by sowing them thinly across the top and then covering them with a touch more potting mix. 
  3. Water well and grow on before transplanting the seedlings into their own plugs or pots. And they can be planted as soon as ground space becomes available.

Grow your chicory somewhere that gets at least six hours of direct sunshine a day, preferably in loose, well-drained soil, which will make digging up the roots a lot easier. Lift the roots up from autumn onwards.

Watch Ben’s video to see how it’s done and for his taste test!

 

About The Author

Benedict Vanheems

Benedict Vanheems is the author of GrowVeg and a lifelong gardener with a BSc and an RHS General Certificate in horticulture. Read More from Benedict Vanheems

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