Dandelion Root Coffee

I love dandelion "coffee!" As someone who is overly sensitive to caffeine but loves the taste of coffee, this roasty drink comes close enough to satisfy my craving. 

If you’re looking for something that tastes exactly like coffee, prepare to be disappointed. However, if you want an earthy drink with numerous health benefits, try this one on for size!

 

Harvest and Preparation

Harvest dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) roots in early spring or late fall. These are the periods when the root is hefty with starch, because the plant can store energy rather than expend it producing flowers and seeds. 

Dig up the root with a small trowel or dandelion tool. But be aware that it breaks easily and requires a gentle hand! Rather than sticking the trowel in at an angle and severing the root, try to go parallel to the root and loosen the soil while pulling the root up with your hand. Pulling on the greens will break them off, leaving the root behind.

 
 Harvesting dandelions in spring

Harvesting dandelions in spring

 

Scrape off as much soil as you can in the field. Dry, sandy soil will come off more easily than wet, clay-like soil. When you get home, cut the roots from the upper portion of the plant, and stick them in separate bowls of cool water. (Save the greens for a salad or potherb!) Drain, rinse, and repeat until most of the soil is removed. You will probably need to scrub the remaining soil from the roots. I like using an old toothbrush for this. It's a bit tedious, but better than having a dirty drink.

 

Dandelion Coffee

 Hot cup of dandelion root coffee

Hot cup of dandelion root coffee

Ingredients

  • Dandelion roots (keep in mind that they will shrink a lot when dried, so you will need more than you think)
  • Water
  • Your favorite coffee additions (optional)

Directions

  1. Clean, pat dry, and chop the roots. It doesn’t really matter if you chop them lengthwise or widthwise, just make sure that there’s plenty of surface area. Aim for slices that are about 1/4” wide.
  2. Dry them by arranging them in a single layer on a tray and placing them in one of the following: a breezy environment with low humidity, a food dehydrator, or an oven set at the lowest possible temperature with the door propped open a crack. How long they take to dry will depend on the size of the chunks and which method you employ. They should be noticeably shriveled, feel hard to the touch, and break or crack when you bend them. 
  3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Arrange dried dandelion pieces in a single layer on a tray, and bake until brown throughout— 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of your roots.
  4. Remove roots from oven and allow to cool. Grind in a mortar and pestle, with a coffee grinder, or a high-powered blender. 
  5. To make sure they are completely dry, spread them in a fine layer on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for five minutes.
  6. Remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  7. Store in an airtight container and label with the contents and date. Use within a year.

To Make the Coffee

  1. Place 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) roasted and ground root into a French press or glass jar.
  2. Add 4 cups boiling water and let steep for at least 5 minutes.
  3. You can adjust the strength of the "coffee" by adding more or less ground root and steeping for a longer or shorter period. The recommendations above are a good starting point.
  4. Pour the “coffee” into a mug if using a French press. If using a jar, strain out the plant material with a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, muslin, or coffee filter. Pour strained “coffee” into a mug.
  5. Stir in your favorite coffee additions such as milk, cream, sugar, or cinnamon, if desired. Enjoy!

 

Medicinal Properties

 Dried dandelion root

Dried dandelion root

Dandelion root is a wonderful medicine, having a high nutritional value, various digestive properties, and mild diuretic effects.

Dandelion root can be used as a nutritive aid for those suffering from anemia or other vitamin deficiencies. It contains potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C.

As a bitter tonic, the roots and leaves of dandelion help cleanse the body of wastes through the liver and kidneys. The bitter constituents activate the entire digestive tract, promoting a healthy appetite, soothing digestion, and stimulating the liver and the pancreas. As such, dandelion is a mild laxative and has a regulating effect on the bowels. Furthermore, dandelion has well-known healing effects on the liver, and has been used to treat jaundice, hepatitis, and other liver diseases. It is also used for problems with the pancreas, such as diabetes, and helps to stimulate the secretion of insulin. Dandelion also has a positive effect on the gallbladder, treating infections and dissolving gall stones.

Dandelion's diuretic effects help relieve bloating, urinary infections, and prostate problems. It also dissolves urinary stones and gravel. Also worth noting is dandelion’s high potassium content; many diuretics leach the body of this important mineral, but dandelion replenishes that.

 

A New Morning Routine

After reading about all the great properties of dandelion root, maybe you will decide to switch out your morning coffee for a mug of dandelion drink! Or more likely you'll keep your coffee, but add dandelion root to your list of tasty herbal infusions. Either way, I hope this recipe brings some diversity to your drink routine!