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Notes from a Wildlife Garden

Costa Coffee? Free, actually

By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener The Wildlife Gardener made some of that old wartime staple, dandelion coffee today. Determined to make weeds work for rather than against me, I dug some mandrake-like dandelions out of the patch I was preparing for broad beans, then wondered what I could usefully do with them :

Dandelion roots

I scrubbed the roots and put them on a baking tray. I baked them at 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4) for about 25 minutes, checking them frequently so they turned dark brown and crumbly but didn’t burn:

Baked dandelion roots

The Junior Wildlife Gardeners crushed up the roots in a pestle and mortar until they resembled coffee grounds:

Pestle & mortar

Then we poured boiling water onto our’coffee’, let it brew for a few minutes, strained it and added milk and sugar:

A nice cuppa

So, what was it like? Not unlike coffee, actually: the same bitterness, a similar flavour albeit, oddly, somewhat plasticky. I was expecting Italian Mr Wildlife Gardener, coffee connoisseur and devotee of Caffè Nero to screw up his face up in disgust, but he pronounced it ‘Drinkable – I wouldn’t say no if I lost my job’. Not so great for the mornings as dandelion coffee is naturally caffeine-free, but the bitters that give the flavour apparently stimulate the liver, bile duct and digestive system. What a great bedtime drink, I thought, but considering that the French for dandelion is pissenlit, I think I’ll stick to cocoa. UPDATE: see Costa Coffee 2 for a new and improved recipe!

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4 thoughts on “Costa Coffee? Free, actually

  • Sharolyn

    I went on a healthy binge last year and one change was to substitute dandelion root in place of my usual coffee. I found it surprisingly tasty with homemade almond milk. Despite the lack of caffeine I was feeling altogether great and energetic due to the healthy cleanse. Alas I have steered back to normal habits but do hope to revisit dandelion days. Had trouble buying it here in Canada and when I did it was pricey. I’m pleased to hear it can be made at home! I’d been curious as to whether the stuff they sold was the same weed in my garden- apparently it is!

  • To be honest I do not really believe that the roots taste like coffee!

  • The Wildlife Gardener

    You’re funny, Mr Bear.


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