Sure enough, it is from the roots of these blue flowers that chicory coffee is made. We had to give it a try. We dug up a root, dried it for a couple of days outside, then roasted it in the oven for two hours. The whole house smelled lovely: malty, chocolately, carmelly.
Last night, I grated the roasted root and then added the gratings to our morning coffee brew.
It was a good cup of coffee. It did seem to soften the bitter edge of the our dark roasted coffee. I think next time I will add a higher ratio of chicory: maybe 1/3 chicory to 2/3 coffee.
History has it that Louisianans began to add chicory root to their coffee when Union naval blockades during the Civil war cut off the port of New Orleans, which was the second largest importer of coffee (after New York City). They never looked back.
Unfortunately, chicory coffee doesn't contain caffeine. In fact, it is known to make one a bit sleepy. But I like the fact that even if I run out of a bag of Heine Brothers' coffee beans, I don't have to forgo my morning cup of Joe. It is such a tiny thing, but it makes me feel self-reliant, like a true homesteader. I can forage for a cup of coffee.