Chicory coffee is not just some new, flavoured coffee-of-the-day thought up by some whizbang marketing guru. Au contraire, chicory is a natural additive, in this case, to make for a different, but entirely delicious cup of coffee.

Chicory is the root of the endive plant; When dried and roasted, it already has a taste similar to that of coffee, but when added to coffee itself, the beverage soon becomes readily distinct from your typical java. It is slightly more bitter, and has a full body. The chicory root itself contains no caffeine, however, so contrary to some popular misconceptions, you'll get no more a buzz from this blend than any other.

Chicory was first used as a supplement to coffee by the French, when, during the French Civil War, coffee became scarce, and thus chicory became a popular additive. Coffee, itself later made its way to North America through the 1700s French quarter, now known as Louisiana. Once again, coffee scarcity, coupled with French heritage meant the re-introduction of chicory, and the taste for it. From there, it gained popularity over the decades, primarily remaining more popular below the Mason-Dixon line.

Today, the most famous place in the United States to purchase chicory coffee remains Cafe du Monde, in New Orleans, which opened in 1862. Its website can be found at http://www.cafedumonde.com. This author has never been there, but it has been said that the original Cafe is, or should be, a cornerstone to anyone's first visit to The Big Easy. It should be noted that their coffee can be purchased in tins, as well, across the country.

If one enjoys coffee, but has never tried the chicory variety, it is well worth the experience, regardless of the discovery that one likes, dislikes, or finds one's self indifferent to the brew's distinct flavour. It is a unique combination of history, heritage and taste that is well-deserving of an introduction to the unintiated palate.

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