South Indian filter coffee, also known as Kaapi, is a traditional beverage that has been savoured in the southern regions of India for generations. This unique coffee is renowned for its distinct flavour profile, which is largely attributed to the addition of chicory. But why is chicory mixed with coffee in this beloved South Indian drink? Let's delve into what is chicory, its history, its health benefits and how chicory enhances the flavor of Coffee blends.
What is Chicory?
Have you ever tasted South Indian filter coffee? If you have, you might have noticed a unique flavor. That's because of a plant called Chicory. This plant is part of the dandelion family and has pretty blue flowers. The root of this plant is often used as a substitute with coffee. In India, it's the only thing that's allowed to be mixed with coffee powder.
Chicory comes from France. That's where it's grown and where the seeds are collected. From France, chicory made its way to Gujarat ( India ). When you first look at chicory root, it looks like a radish. When it's not cooked or changed in any way, you might think it's a radish. But even though it looks simple, chicory is very special.
Chicory root is sweet. The best kind of chicory is picked at a certain time, around the festival of Ram Navami. After it's picked, it's dried in the sun. Chicory can handle very hot and medium temperatures.
Chicory root is a lot like beetroot and carrot because it has a lot of water in it. It also has natural sugars. These sugars are used to make a syrup. When the syrup is made, it tastes a bit like caramel. Chicory tastes a lot like coffee.
So, when you taste chicory coffee, remember how it got there. It started in France, traveled to India, and ended up in your coffee cup. Chicory adds sweetness, a caramel flavor, and a lot of specialness to your coffee.
History of Chicory Coffee:
The practice of blending chicory with coffee dates back to the 19th century during the time of the French Civil War. Coffee was scarce and expensive, leading the French to mix chicory root, which was cheap and readily available, with coffee to stretch their supplies. This practice spread to various parts of the world, including South India, during the British colonial period.
Why is chicory mixed with coffee in South Indian filter coffee?
Enhanced Flavor: When chicory is added to south indian filter coffee, it imparts a unique flavor profile that enhances the overall taste of the brew. Chicory root, when roasted and ground, has a slightly woody and nutty flavor, with a hint of a caramel-like sweetness. It adds a depth and complexity to the coffee, giving it a fuller body and a smooth, velvety texture. The chicory also helps to balance the coffee's natural bitterness, resulting in a milder, more rounded flavor that is often described as earthy and rich. This combination of flavors makes a cup of coffee with chicory a truly unique and enjoyable experience.
Health Benefits: Chicory root is a good source of inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber that promotes digestive health. Inulin, found in chicory, has diuretic properties that can be beneficial for your body. Chicory serves as a natural cleanser for your digestive system. If you're looking to detoxify your body from the inside, consider consuming chicory extract. It's a healthful choice that can contribute positively to your overall well-being.It also contains antioxidants and may help in blood sugar regulation.
Economical: As chicory is less expensive than coffee, mixing it with coffee makes the blend more economical without compromising on taste.
What is the ideal ratio of coffee to chicory for South Indian filter coffee?
The typical South Indian filter coffee blend contains about 70-85% coffee and 15-30% chicory. This blend not only makes the coffee last longer but also imparts a unique, robust flavor that is slightly sweet and caramel-like.
Here are some of our best Chicory Coffee Blends.
The addition of chicory to South Indian filter coffee is a tradition steeped in history, practicality, and flavor enhancement. The next time you sip on a cup of this aromatic brew, take a moment to appreciate the complex flavors and the rich history that the humble chicory root adds to your coffee.