Herbal Coffee For All-Day Sipping
I think it’s safe to say that many of us have a complicated relationship with coffee. When you feel like you can’t live without it, that’s the time to look inward and maybe give it a rest. In my long journey towards making peace with coffee, I have landed on a sort of polyamorous model as opposed to a lifelong marriage: I enjoy coffee, but only when it is what I feel like I truly want. But I have become extremely conscious of the times when I’m reaching for coffee as a habit, a comfort, or a distraction. That’s where some great alternatives come in. Something hot and strong and slightly bitter is a satisfying way to reward yourself, but it should leave you recharged and not fraying at the edges after reaching the bottom of the cup.
My herbal coffee recipe is such a huge player in my day. Even though I start most days with a cup of real coffee, I also brew a large french press of this herbal blend to satisfy my need for a tasty reward as I plug away at my desk into the afternoon and evening. The ingredients in this blend actually add to my health instead of taking away from it, and the piece of mind that comes with this realization is no small thing.
There are a few herbal coffees on the market, but beware: many of these have common allergens like nuts and gluten-containing grains. Some have artificial flavors and all premixed varieties lack a customizable quality, which can be important if you like your drinks tailored to you. My recipe is super simple (no way I would use it if it weren’t) and honed through trial and error. Depending on where you live, some of the ingredients can be grown in your own garden (dandelion root, thistle, ginger) but I order the components online, mix them up in a large mason jar, and then I have enough herbal coffee to last me a few months. If my tastes change or my health needs a boost in one direction or another, I can add herbal remedies to the glass or the whole batch.
Dandelion Root is exactly what it sounds like: the root of the common weed. It is full of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus and has liver purifying properties. I use unroasted dandelion root since it is a little milder in flavor. (Roasted Dandelion root is delicious and adds a little more sweetness, but I find it overpowering. Your choice!) Dandelion leaves are also a healthy addition, as they are very common in herbal teas. The grassy, herbal notes in the leaves are not what I’m looking for in a coffee substitute, but they are delicious used with other herbs in tea.
Carob is well known as a caffeine-free substitute for cocoa and it imparts a similar flavor. I find that roasted carob is even closer to chocolate in flavor so I go for that form, but raw is also an option for those looking for the most health benefits. Carob is a good source of antioxidants.
Chicory root is an ancient ingredient used in Egypt to purify the liver and blood. In the American South, it is often mixed with regular coffee for a little added sweetness. The flavor is quite sweet, but it also comes with a very strong, woody taste. Chicory is an essential element in any herbal coffee blend because of the sweetness and the dark color that it adds, but go slowly with it. The flavor is quite strong and chicory is a source of inulin, a form of soluble fiber that can have a noticeable digestive effect for the uninitiated.
All-Day Herbal Coffee
- 2 parts organic roasted carob
- 2 parts organic dandelion root
- 1 part chicory root
- ¼ part milk thistle powder (for liver support)
- ¼ part gelatinized maca powder (for energy)
- ¼ part powdered ginger (for digestion)
Think of this herbal mix more as a loose leaf tea when brewing– the best option is a french press, and it’s also delicious iced. Let the mixture steep for 5-15 minutes for best flavor; the mixture can even be brewed twice in the same day! Still, you should remember not to use a traditional drip coffee pot or pour-over method. Herbal coffee requires steeping time, and the flavor is its own reward.