Specialty Coffee vs Chicory Coffee, What’s the Difference?

Specialty Coffee vs Chicory Coffee, What’s the Difference?

Practically, every single thing starts with a cup of coffee. Be it the start of the day, social gatherings, A coffee date, work meetings, or informal meetings, the list goes on. Meeting over coffee has become prevalent and with that has escalated the emergence of Cafes. The constant levitating mandate has also led to an increase in the cultivation of coffee. Coffee can be enjoyed in countless ways and with innovative creativity, cafes are adapting to the various coffee trends, while making it more palatable and desirable. 

There's no stopping in giving a great experience to coffee enthusiasts, given the increased demand for different coffee varieties and people's enthusiasm for coffee. Due to the rising demand for coffee consumption, new cafes are opening up with inventive concepts to provide coffee lovers with a delectable, yet tranquil experience. 

A number of things are taken into consideration when coffee cultivation is done. But how it is done is imperative, as it entirely depends on the climatic conditions and altitude, at which the coffee is developed. 

What is Specialty Coffee?  

Specialty coffee is entitled as the supreme grade of coffee accessible, conventionally depicting the entire chain of supply using single origin or single estate coffee. Specialty coffee, commonly referred to as the "third wave of coffee," is connected to farmers and brewers.

A very prominent definition of specialty coffee is coffee scoring 80 points or above on the 100-point Q Scale. Coffee scoring from 90-100 is graded as the finest. 

Variety of coffee beans

Specialty coffee is typically grown at high altitudes under the farmer's close supervision. From there, it is either sold directly to roasters or sold as a premium to coffee dealers. The entire procedure from growing to brewing is monitored and understood to improve the quality on a usual basis. 

As soon as the coffee beans are processed and transported, a substantial amount of time is spent by the roasters to understand and develop roast profiles. 

Advanced technology has now made it possible for roasters to link roasting machines to computers to detect temperature and record different variables during the roast cycle. Once, the roasters have tried different profiles and cuppings, they decide on one profile that brings out the best. Specialty coffee is often roasted in small batches to retain freshness and monitor quality.

Types of Specialty Coffee beans 

The four main types of coffee beans are Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, and Liberica. They all have flavor profiles that are vastly dissimilar to one another. 

Even though there are more than 120 different types of coffee plants, only two of them generate the majority of the coffee we consume. Arabica (Coffea Arabica), Robusta (Coffea Canephora), or a combination of the two. The tastes, growing conditions, and prices of the two varieties vary.

Arabica Coffee Beans:  Arabica coffee is a variant of coffee produced from the beans of the Coffea Arabica plant. The origins lie in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia, making up 60% or more of coffee production. It is termed Arabica as in the 7th Century, the beans navigated from Ethiopia to Lower Arabia. On its arrival, Coffee came into existence. 

Arabica coffee beans

Arabica beans can't tolerate frost and prefer humid environments. The best temperature range is between 15°C and 24°C, and it prefers shade. Usually, it is grown at altitudes of 1,900 feet or more (600+ meters) above sea level. It matures at around 7 years of age and prefers hillsides.

The bean's form is typically circular in shape with a noticeable central crease. 

These beans are adored by coffee lovers because, although having a greater acidity, they tend to have a sweeter, gentler taste with tones of fruits, flowers, chocolate, and nuts. They are also known for their bright and complex flavors.

It is termed a specialty coffee as it is delicate and needs more specific cultivation necessities, such as weather and altitude, to grow. 

Robusta Coffee Beans: Robusta coffee is a species of coffee that is commonly cultivated in Africa, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The acidity level in robusta coffee beans is much lower compared to Arabica coffee, making it generally taste much less sweet. Like the term “Robust”, the beans have deeper and stronger flavor compounds.

Robusta coffee beans

Robustas are grown in altitudes of no more than 1000m and produce fruit much quicker than the Arabica beans, they do not require any special care or inspection, and that’s the main reason they are cheaper than Arabicas. Robusta Coffee beans also have caffeine content on the higher side. Coffee beans from the Robusta are usually smaller, circular, and paler than Arabica beans. The center crease is also less pronounced. 

Robusta coffee is highly rejoiced among coffee enthusiasts due to the rich flavor and layer of crema it gives. It entirely depends on how the coffee is made as what is bitter to one person is described as “hearty”, “rich”, “bold”, or “full-bodied”. 

What is Chicory Coffee? 

Chicory (Cichorium Intybus) is a woody, herbaceous plant in the dandelion family. The plant has vibrant blue flowers, and sometimes can be white or pink. The roots of the Chicory are baked, ground, and often used as a Coffee substitute or additive. Chicory is cultivated all over the globe and is usually found growing wild along the roadside or in untamed areas. 

Chicory coffee beans

Ground Chicory roots taste like ground coffee beans and are usually used as a coffee replacement. In the early 19th century, the french were forced to use the plant’s roots instead of coffee. Chicory roots have a dark, slightly sweet, and rich flavor similar to roasted coffee. It is a great option for those who prefer the taste of coffee but looking for a decaf option. In addition to the lower caffeine content and a taste similar to that of coffee, it has a high percentage of inulin, which helps improve gut health, reduce cholesterol, and control blood sugar levels. 

Chicory consumption can also disrupt health conditions by negatively affecting some people. It may trigger symptoms of an allergic reaction- like paining, swelling, and tingling in the mouth. 

Why is Chicory used in Coffee? 

Chicory root tastes quite similar to coffee beans, but with an enhanced nutty and woody flavor, making it a fantastic substitute for coffee beans. It is a cheap commodity that doesn't require special cultivation care or attention. When there was a shortage of coffee and the price skyrocketed, chicory was used in coffee. Multinational corporations now use it to market their goods for less money.

Wherever they may be, coffee connoisseurs generally concur that the best coffee is produced by a professional barista utilizing an espresso machine to extract the oils, caffeine, and aromas from 100% ground Arabica coffee beans. For a region like Southern India, this product is a "Rolls Royce," yet the best Arabica beans frequently need to be imported, and they are pricey. As a fraction of the population, there is a shortage of skilled baristas, and in India, where access to electricity would have been an issue, the espresso coffee extraction equipment is both prohibitively expensive and not a practical option for roadside and market vendors.

Although chicory does not contain caffeine, it tastes remarkably similar to coffee and is therefore difficult to distinguish, especially when brewed with the Indian Filter Coffee brew technique.

According to the India Times story Chicory conquers coffee heartlands, when the price of coffee beans rose between 2009 and 2011, chicory became a significant component of Southern Indian coffee consumption. Coffee roasters in Southern India began adding substantial amounts of chicory to their blends (up to 50%), which is a fifth of the cost of coffee beans, in response to the worry that consumers would be priced out of the market.

In addition to citing the fact that "chicory holds on to the hot water a little longer, letting the water dissolve and extract more of the coffee grinds," which is a crucial factor when extracting a coffee brew using the Indian Filter Coffee brew method, coffee product manufacturers claim that increased profits are not the only factor driving their promotion of this blend.

How to determine if your coffee has Chicory? 

The widely used adulterants in the case of coffee are Chicory, Caramel, and Date seeds. Brands use these in the coffee blend to protect margin costs. Once the mixture is ground, it is tough to find out the presence of any of these additives by visual inspection. However, all these adulterants have different properties from coffee beans, and by conducting the following tests, one can find out the presence of adulterants in their blend.

  • Pinch Test: Squeeze a small amount of coffee between your fingers. If it solidifies into a cohesive mass resembling a cake, chicory has been added. This is because the huge, firm coffee grains do not adhere to one another. However, chicory's tiny, delicate grains have the propensity to cling together. As a result, your coffee is probably not coffee if the grains tend to clump together.
  • Water Test: On a dish, sprinkle some coffee powder. Add some water to it. Chicory is present if it readily absorbs the water and becomes soft. It is coffee if it takes some time to absorb water and stays hard.

  • Tumbler Test: Pick up a clear glass. Add water to it. Gently sprinkle some coffee powder over it.
    1. Coffee is powder if it floats for a while before sinking.
    2. The powder is chicory or another seed if it sinks quickly.
    3. It contains caramel or chicory if it readily emits a brownish or yellowish color.

    With the inception of various coffee brands and Cafes coming up with new techniques to fulfill the urge of coffee enthusiasts, It is very crucial for people to determine what they are consuming. With brands like Chariot Coffee, Caffeine addicts do not have to worry as they provide the best blend with coffee beans sourced from Jamaica. Their brewing harmony is just perfect as the specialty coffee beans are freshly extracted from farms, 100% pure arabica beans, Roasted with excellence, and thus make an impeccable blend. 


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