Salty Running in the Kitchen – Chicory’s Vietnamese Coffee

The next recipe in our Salty Running in the Kitchen series comes from Chicory! There are ways to think about chicory: leaf chicory, which includes a family of bitter greens including endive, escarole and raddichio; and root chicory, which is used as a coffee substitute in Europe. I love all these things — my moniker choice was no accident. There are tons of things you can do with the leaf version, but I love the chicory coffee you find in New Orleans restaurants.

Chicory has a fascinating backstory, too. Napoleon initiated a blockade that derived the French of most of their coffee in 1808 — sacré bleu! — that resulted in chicory becoming a common substitute. And that led to its popularity in NoLa, where it prospered during the Civil War when trade disruptions and blockades limited coffee delivery to the south. Coffee with chicory added remains a New Orleans tradition, and you’ll commonly find it served with beignets.

It’s also a natural decaf alternative to coffee if you’re on #TeamDecaf like me & Ginger. (For real, pseudonym game on point.)

One of my favorite ways to enjoy chicory AND coffee is with the Vietnamese coffee they serve at Pho Ba Luu here in Louisville. The wall of Café du Monde caught my eye on my first visit, not long after I became a Saltine, and I had to have it. And I love it.

This is a super-fun brunch recipe for a coffee-with-a-twist, or make it on your own. Café du Monde is available online and there are other brands around, too. This is my version inspired by my friends at Pho Ba Luu, who serve it iced. It’s equally good hot, especially this time of year, and I won’t blink if you add Kahlúa to it either.

French press all day.

Chicory Vietnamese Coffee


2 T ground coffee with chicory

2 T sweetened condensed milk

Boiling water

Ice (if you want it cold)

Per serving, scale as needed!


  1. You’ll need a French Press or a heatproof container and a coffee filter.
  2. Place 2 T chicory coffee in either the French Press or a heatproof container (like a glass Pyrex measuring cup). Pour 2/3 c boiling water over it and let steep for 4 minutes.
  3. While steeping, add 2 T sweetened condensed milk to a mug or glass.
  4. Press coffee and pour into mug or glass, or pour grounds through the coffee filter into the mug or glass. Add ice if you wanna. Or Kahlúa. Or both. Whatever, it’s the holidays.
  5. Drink heartily.

Started running in my early 20s and ended up running my first marathon 15 months later. Managed to break 3 hours in my 12th marathon. Pilates instructor passionate about the importance of your powerhouse in running and the mind/body connection. One husband, zero kids, mama to one Australian Shepherd.

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