I love the real stuff, but there are plenty of benefits to brewing caffeine-free dandelion “coffee”: It’s a great tonic; it uses something that is otherwise considered an invasive weed; it’s an easy DIY project; and it’s free! It’s also as local as you can get, since you can dig dandelion roots right out of your yard. And unlike coffee, you can make it almost anywhere.
One important note before we start: I can’t overemphasize the importance of thorough washing. Wash. Wash well. Wash some more. Got it? Great!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
» in-ground dandelion weeds
» veggie brush
» coffee grinder
WHAT TO DO
Dandelion roots are best dug in either early spring or late fall. Whenever you dig, be sure you’re doing so in a chemical-free yard or green space. Dandelion roots go deep, so dig deep down before firmly pulling up on the root, using the top of the plant as a handle.
Once you have a large quantity dug, cut off the entire top part of the plants. (If you harvest in early spring, the leaves are awesome as a salad or a cooked green.)
Run the roots under cold water and use the veggie brush to clean them well. Repeat. Dry them on a towel. Chop them into small pieces. Allow them to air dry for two weeks. When the roots have thoroughly dried, roast them in a dry skillet, stirring frequently, until they are a dark, rich brown—about 10 to 15 minutes. Then grind them in a coffee grinder.
You can brew a "coffee" straight from the ground dandelion roots or you can mix the ground roots 50-50 with coffee. If you’re going roots only, use 1 Tbsp roasted dandelion roots per cup of water. I usually do the 50-50 version and brew it in my coffee pot, although you can also simmer the ground roots in a saucepan on the stovetop until the liquid is a rich brown and then strain out the roots.
Either way, the brew is earthy, nutty and slightly sweet—perfect as is, or you can dress it up with cream and sugar. (It does have a slightly sweet flavor on its own, so I skip the sugar.) Dandelion roots have no caffeine, so dandelion coffee is ideal for evening sipping or for those who are trying to cut back on the hard stuff. Enjoy!
Got another suggestion for using dandelion roots? Or a question for Cynthia? Post it below and keep the conversation rolling. You might be interested in Cynthia’s Roasting Coffee 101, Sabrina’s Homemade Coffee Liqueur 101 (think Kahlúa), Penny’s Mead 101, Magpie Ima’s Elderberry Syrup Flu Fighter 101, and Black Cat Cottage’s Homemade Extracts 101. For a brew for your garden, give the Compost Tea 101 a try.
Cynthia has also written 101s about smart uses for bacon grease, apples, and stale bread; check them out! You can always find more things to cook, preserve, make, craft, plant, grow, and roast in the HOMEGROWN 101 library.