You may be surprised to find that the coffee plant grown on high production farms can become a personal home item. The Coffee industry employs over 25 million people globally, involved in the cultivation, processing and packaging of coffee; it really is no joke. As a coffee lover or fanatic, the popularity and economic power of the Coffee drink might make you dismiss the idea of having such a plant growing in your backyard or living in your house. What is more?
Coffee plants are commonly grown in climates with a high level of humidity and relatively cool temperatures. Coffee plants hardly thrive in other places, asides from tropical countries, known as the Coffee Belts. The Coffee plant’s selective growing environment can also add to your doubts of successfully growing one. However, the Coffee plant makes an excellent potted indoor plant, and if you go about it correctly, you can have one or more blossoming coffee plants to yourself. This article shows you how to grow a coffee plant. Read on below:
What You Need to Know
Here are common facts about the Coffee plant to help as you begin your coffee-growing journey.
Coffee is a tropical evergreen shrub with green leaves, cherries and seeds from which the popular coffee beverage is made.
On a Coffee farm, an average of 1.4 square feet of land (just a little bigger than an average computer screen) produces a cup of coffee. Coffee farmers start off growing coffee seeds in shaded nurseries. Farmers must also keep the Coffee seeds away from bright sunlight until they are strong enough to be transplanted. These coffee seeds require moisture to survive and must be watered frequently.
Most Coffee farmers start planting the coffee seeds in the wet season, as the soil can retain moisture while the plant roots become firmly established. Coffee plants are evergreen shrubs, which means that it keeps its leaves and remains green and functional through its growing season and more years. Although the Coffee plant is a strong and forcefully growing plant, it generally would take about two to three years for a newly planted coffee plant to bear fruit. Flowering starts on its branches and leaves. Various agents, such as bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, sunbirds, and even the wind, pollinate the flowers with time.
The two main types of Coffee Plants are Coffee Arabica (Arabica coffee) and Coffea Robusta (Robusta coffee). These two species still come in varieties and forms depending on environmental factors and cultivation processes. Coffea Arabica is arguably the most consumed of both, coveted for its unique acidity and sweetness characteristics.
On the other hand, Coffea Robusta is not as acidic and sweet but has higher caffeine content. Coffea Robusta is commonly used in blends to give the coffee depth, while Coffee Arabica adds its sweet notes.
Coffee Robusta requires cross-pollination by wind and insects, while Coffee Arabica is self-fertile. However, bee pollination enhances its quantity and quality of output.
Six weeks after the flowers are pollinated, the coffee cherries start to bloom. Each cherry houses two coffee seeds, which eventually become the coffee beans we all know. It takes about nine months after flowering for Coffee beans to be harvested.
Can I grow a Coffee plant at home?
Coffee plants are indeed selective about their environments. The coffee plant grows best in cool to warm tropical climates with high altitudes and rich soil. These conditions explain why the world’s Coffee belt includes North, Central, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. More so, the Coffee plant thrives in a temperature range of 64°–70°F (18°C–21°C). It can also bear hotter annual temperatures up to roughly 73°F (24°C). If it gets any hotter, the coffee cherry will ripen much faster, which can, in turn, affect the coffee bean quality.
On the other hand, if the Coffee plant freezes, it shrivels off in about two hours. The coffee plant also requires an annual rainfall of 60 to 80 inches per year, coupled with a dry period of two to three months. The United States does not have as much rain as tropical climates, which begs the question as to whether Coffee plants can be successfully grown here, let alone indoors or in your backyard. However, there are tricks and tips to growing a Coffee plant on your own. The essential step is to provide the plant with conditions it will usually enjoy in tropical environments, such as rich, acidic soil to help retain moisture, high humidity, cool temperature, and good drainage.
Successfully mimicking the natural habitat or preferred environment of the Coffee plant will help you reap the benefits of a farm-grown Coffee plant. You can grow Coffee plants indoors or outdoors in the backyard. Most experts suggest the former because environmental factors such as temperatures, varying humidity levels and other seasonal changes can be too unpredictable and deter the plant’s growth. However, these factors are easier controlled indoors. You can determine and regulate the amount of water, sunlight and warmth your coffee plants needs. However, outdoor coffee plants can also be successful as long as you bear these factors in mind.
Requirements to grow your Coffee plant
There are tools and conditions you must put in place to grow your coffee plant at home successfully. These are:
The first step in growing your coffee plant is to find coffee seedlings. Roasted beans are not the ideal seeds for planting, as the processing it has gone through will hinder proper growth.
The right soil
Another factor that determines the successful growth of your indoor coffee plant is getting suitable soil. The soil you use in planting your coffee seeds must be rich with nutrients so that the plant’s roots can penetrate deep and obtain the needed nutrients for growth. A soil with a pH close to 6 is ideal for coffee plant development.
You start off planting your coffee seedlings in 4-inch pots and gradually increase sizes as the plant grows. Your coffee plant needs a proper drainage system to avoid excess water pooling on the soil. We recommend that your Coffee pots have holes to allow for excess water to drain, so the soil has the right amount of moisture it needs.
Coffee plants do not need direct, harsh sunlight. You can either place it at a spot with indirect sunlight, such as by the window or put it under shade if grown outdoors. Exposing Coffee plants to too much direct sunlight will make their leaves turn brown on time.
Coffee plants need irrigation regularly and adequately. You will need to study the plant per time to determine how much water it can take. The soil should always be evenly moist but never waterlogged. The soil must also never be completely dried out.
Temperature and Humidity
Your coffee plant needs just the right temperature to thrive. If the weather is too hot, it will cause the coffee cherries to ripen too fast and damage the coffee bean quality. Coffee plants also thrive in highly humid conditions, with plenty of rain and fog. If the air is too dry, the leaf edges might start to turn brown. We recommend that you mist the plant daily to raise the humidity level.
The soil of your coffee plant requires sufficient nutrients to grow. Ensure you use fertilizers that do not contain harsh solid chemicals. You can start by putting a weak liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks while still growing and reducing it to once a month.
Step by Step Process
Purchase Coffee seedlings
Contrary to misconstrued notions about growing coffee plants, you sew coffee seeds and not coffee beans. You can purchase coffee seeds online or at coffee stores around you.
Prepare the seedlings
Prepare the Coffee seedlings for planting by soaking them in a bowl of warm water overnight.
Find the right soil
The following morning, fill a 4-inch pot with organic potting soil. Your soil must be rich in nutrients to allow the plant’s roots to penetrate deep. The pot should have holes for proper drainage to avoid excess pooling water.
Separate each Seedling
Put each seed in its pot. The pot will be its natural habitat for a while.
Start the growing process.
Keep your potted coffee plant in indirect sunlight, such as near a window. Water the soil at least weekly to ensure the soil remains moist. It would be best if you used a pebble tray filled with water to maintain humidity.
Repot your Coffee plant
You cannot simply leave your coffee plant in the same pots you started with, as this can stifle the growth of the plant’s roots. You should repot when your coffee plant is about 8 inches high and repeat the process when it is about 24 inches (this should be at almost a year). Continue the repotting process every spring, but wisely as it grows. On Coffee farms, coffee farmers leave the plants to grow to about 30 inches, but regular pruning is helpful for its growth and keeps it manageable for you.
How long does it take to grow a Coffee plant?
Indeed, nothing good comes easy, coffee included. Unlike other plants, the process of planting your coffee seeds till it begins to blossom cherries can take a few years. It usually takes a newly planted coffee tree between two to four years to grow beans and ripen them for harvest. Even after the plant has started to flower, it still takes a full year for the cherries to ripen. The growth of your coffee plant depends on its variety, but you may need to put in the hard work and patience for three to four years before it begins to flower.
How to Harvest your Coffee beans at home
If you are a coffee fanatic and want to have the joy of brewing your homemade coffee, you will need an extra year to watch your cherries mature for harvesting. You can start to think of harvesting your coffee cherries when you are sure of their maturity.
Check for Maturity
Usually, a Coffee cherry starts to change colour from green to red and dark red as a sign of its maturity. When the cherry becomes slightly soft to the touch, you can pick them off the plant by hand.
Separate the Beans
The cherry houses the coffee beans, which you will either roast or keep green. Separate the inner beans from the cherry by pulping the cherries in a bowl of water.
After separating the beans from the cherries, lay them out on wire mesh and dry them until you can easily see the outer skins flake off. The drying process can take several days or even weeks. You can ground the dried beans in a coffee mill to get your coffee powder.
How much coffee plant do you need to make your coffee?
The number of coffee plants needed to make coffee is one of the major concerns for a Coffee fanatic looking to grow a Coffee plant. How many cups of coffee will a coffee plant produce? Is it worth the stress? On average, a coffee plant can make 4,000 beans per year. 4000 Coffee beans will give you approximately one to two pounds of coffee. If you are serious about enjoying your homegrown coffee regularly, you might need to grow multiple coffee plants at once. However, if you want to have pride in your homegrown coffee once in a while, two or three coffee plants will be enough.
Coffee Plant Care
Many Home coffee growers are in such a hurry to see their plant flower and produce cherries. Their anxiety can make them get bored of the long process and take less care of their plant. As you must have noticed, the coffee plant takes years to grow, flower and blossom. You must enjoy the process of grooming the plant of your favourite coffee drink and appreciate the cherries it gives you. Eventually, it is a great feeling and a well-deserved reward for your patience.
Have a Coffee Plant Care routine
Since you have decided to start the growing process, you might as well get it done successfully. The health and development of your coffee plant depend on the care you give to it. It is essential you include your coffee plant in your schedule and have a routine for it. Below are essentials to include in your Coffee Plant routine:
Watering the plant
The coffee plant requires regular water and moisture retention. Ensure you water your coffee plant enough to keep the soil slightly moist, not swampy. The process of watering your coffee plant requires adequate attention so that the soil is not too dry or too wet for the plant. As the plant grows, you will need to adjust your watering methods. Generally, we recommend that you water your plant at least once per week, with 1/3 cup of water. Always start by giving your coffee plant little water to see how much the soil can handle, then adjust accordingly. Signs of coffee plant dehydration include limp leaves and change in colour from green to yellow. To avoid the soil being swampy, ensure your coffee plant pot has holes for proper drainage.
Your coffee plant’s soil always needs to be filled with nutrients at all times. It is good practice to check your soil’s fertilizer’s PH every few months and fertilize only when required.
You should prune your coffee plant every spring. Pruning helps cut off dead weight, leaves and branches hindering its growth. When pruning, you start by getting rid of dead leaves and fallen branches. Use a pair of sharp hand pruners to cut the coffee plant stem at a 45-degree angle slightly above the leaf axil.
The logic behind repotting is ensuring you give the plant’s roots enough room to survive. You want to make sure the plant’s root is not too small in a large pot while also ensuring you provide the plant with enough space to allow it to grow freely.
Keep the Plant Away from Children and Pets
While coffee beans are edible and safe, the coffee plant contains saponins known to irritate a cat’s skin, in its mouth and intestines if eaten. The caffeine content of coffee is also harmful to dogs, cats, and horses, although not humans. Hence, you should keep your coffee plant away from your pet(s). Coffee plants can pose some threats to children as well. First is the coffee cherry, which a child can choke on. Children may also not be mature enough to take the coffee leaf. It may develop some health issues or sicknesses if ingested.
Regularly Check your Plant for Signs of Disease
Your indoor coffee plant is just as susceptible to pests infestations from various organisms such as mites, ants, insects, aphids, and mealybugs. Signs of pests infestation include residue of white powder, tiny webs or other irregularities on your plant. You can also check the cherries or wood beneath the bark for signs of rot. You will also find signs of diseases on your coffee plant, first on the leaves. If you observe that your coffee leaves change colours from brown to yellow, it is likely plagued by plant diseases, and you should treat it immediately.
How to treat your Coffee Plant for Pests
It is common for indoor Coffee plants to suffer infestations from pests. It would be best if you treated infestations as soon as possible to prevent them from ruining the whole coffee plant or spreading to the rest of your plant collection. If you find out your coffee plant is already pest infested, it is not the end of the world, and it does not mean that all of your efforts are wasted. Start treatment by using the least toxic products containing safe materials and ingredients. You should only move on to products containing serious chemicals if you are not able to arrest the situation initially. Strong chemicals can cause more irreversible damage to your coffee plant and tamper with your plant’s natural health.
As you must have noticed, the coffee plant is a delicate yet strong plant. It takes patience to enjoy the years of its maturity while properly attending to it. If you put in the hard work of growing your coffee plant by watering regularly and pruning, you will reap its fruits and also get to have a beautiful indoor plant that will last a long time. Generally, coffee plants live between 30-40 years. The Coffee plant is one to keep for history’s sake while enjoying your favourite drink produced in your home.