I work at one of Missoula’s best coffee shops – the legendary “Break Espresso.” Our regulars love us and know us by name, and often we act as the unofficial therapists of Missoula. There is something about a good cup of coffee and a friendly smile that makes people open up about life. We try our best to know everybody’s names as well, although I will admit after two years I still have a few to learn. However, I have everybody’s drink order down!
Coffee has always been one of my favorites. I have memories of my dad making coffee early in the morning, before the sun rose, and drinking it black at the kitchen table while reading his Bible. When my grandpa would take my cousins and I bird hunting we’d always stop for a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll at the old cafe. Sometimes one of us would order coffee and be all grown-up like grandpa, but most of the time we reveled in hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream.
In high school I discovered Starbucks and went through a flavored latte phase. It was the cool place to hang out with all my friends. We thought we were so hip ordering “butterscotch raspberry mochas with whipped cream, 16oz and 2 shots.” Then we’d sit in those comfy chairs and sip our too-hot beverages and try not to look like we burned our tongues.
When I went to college I discovered REAL coffee. I got a job as a barista and learned how to make everything from a mezzo to a double dry cappuccino. I learned to appreciate how a good shot tasted and smelled, and how to steam my milk just right to create the perfect latte art while making sure there was still enough foam to please the palate. And I drank. so. much. coffee. My shot tolerance was easily 4 or 5 per day. I loved going to the coffee shop and meeting my best friend, chatting about where life was taking her after graduation. I loved reading my book or journaling while sipping the perfect Americano with a dash of cream. I loved drinking a black cup of joe while chatting with the old guys who regularly came into the coffee shop at 6am every single day. So when I learned I had to give up drinking caffeine to help my body heal, I went through all the stages of grief. I tried drinking herbal tea for a while, and while I enjoy tea, there is just something substantial about coffee that you can’t get in a cup of peppermint tea. I searched high and low for a substitute that didn’t contain any nuts, barley grains or chocolate. There are a lot of good herbal “coffee’s” out there, but unfortunately they all contained something that was not AIP.
Finally, after talking with some friends and consulting the google, I found the magic recipe! Equal parts dandelion root and chicory root in a French press.
It took some playing with the ratios and the time of steeping to get it just right, but now I consistently brew a mean cup of “coffee.” I add some homemade coconut milk and honey to create the perfect blend, and most of my mornings involve a cup or two or three of this glorious beverage before I go to work. As a former coffee addict, this blend is a very good substitute. I am also pleased with how healthy my morning ritual has become. Dandelion root has long been used as a digestive aid in traditional Chinese medicine, along with a host of other benefits, especially for pregnant or nursing mothers. And no caffeine headache if I can’t have it one morning. A reason to celebrate indeed!
My next step: creating the perfect AIP mocha!