March 26, 2011

Chicory journey part IV: world expert in Chicory

That’s my claim, not his. And I’ll admit it’s not particularly well informed, but it might be true. He told me “there are a few people who know more than I do, but they wont talk to you.” (I’m guessing he meant folks at Du Monde, or Community, the big roasters.)

Rolando and I made our way over to Orleans Coffee Exchange. These guys were fantastic. They showed us around, toured the facility, and talked chicory. They were surprised we were interested in Chicory, especially when we told them we were from Boston. Didn’t know why anybody would come down from Boston to ask about Chicory.

But they answered all of our questions. Where do you get your chicory? From Nebraska and France. They grow it, harvest the roots, roast them, grind them into granules, and package and ship in 50 lbs bags. They prefer the french product. It was a little more flavorful and sweeter.

What ratio? 30-40% Chicory. BUT, chicory is much more water soluble than coffee, so you end up with something like 50% chicory solids, even though the blend might be only 30% Chicory by weight.

What does Chicory do to the flavor of coffee? It smooths it out, adds a distinctive Chicory taste, almost herbal. Adds a little body, less bitterness.

What type of coffee do you pair with Chicory? Darker roasts. Lower quality coffees.

What is the history of Chicory? Lower quality coffee (read old and fermented) was shipped from South America and Central America. Chicory was cheap (if you didn’t have money), more available (locally grown at the time), and could mask a poor quality coffee. I found that a lot of old coffee was roasted near the harvest (unlike today where beans are shipped green) because harvesters didn’t want their customers to grow their own coffee. Not sure if that’s true, but not so different from Monsanto’s approach to corn today.

How do you serve Chicory? AU LAIT. ALWAYS. This was interesting to us. The milk is really important. This is an au lait culture. And not just that, but we learned that this place called the Morning Cup did it better than anybody. We were warned that their methods were a little wacky, but they are the real deal… to be continued in part V: trip to Morning Cup

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