Why Should You Grow Your Own Coffee Plant
You should grow your own coffee because it is a fun hobby. Also, you will learn a thing or two about the whole process, and you will appreciate your morning cup of joe even more. However, don’t buy heavy machinery yet, or cages for palm civets. Kopi Luwak is luxurious coffee, and you can’t produce it at home. You won’t get rich with few coffee plants.
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Remember that you grow coffee for fun and learning purposes. Don’t think you’ll become the next coffee billionaire as soon as you plant a coffee bush or two. Coffee plants usually take years to grow, and there is no guarantee you‘ll pick any cherries the first few years. But that’s no reason to give up. Growing coffee is easy, and we will show you how. So, grab a strong cup of Cafe Bustelo and join us in this article.
Benefits of Growing Coffee
The benefits of growing your own coffee plant are:
- Cleaner air, as your plant will purify it.
- You have a cool hobby and a killer conversation starter.
- If you are lucky, you could, in 5 years or so, drink a cup of coffee 100% made by your effort.
The coffee plant is a nice decoration and will raise some eyebrows when your guests arrive. After all, caring for any plant is always a plus.
How Does Growing Coffee Work
It works as any other hobby. You should look it just that way, like a hobby. Caring for a coffee tree will not cost you too much time or money. It will, however, fill you with a sense of satisfaction. There is a level of pride in growing a coffee tree from a small seed, using only your patience and knowledge.
Pros and Cons of Growing Coffee
- Lovely and inexpensive hobby.
- You will learn more about coffee growing and processing.
- Cuban coffee is a trendy drink, and you can make it with Robusta beans that you grew inside your home.
- Coffee growing takes patience. You won’t see the first coffee cherries for at least three years.
- The coffee plant is toxic to pets and can cause health issues to children if swallowed.
Types of Coffee Beans You Can Grow at Home
The queen of coffee, Arabica, is almost 70% of the world’s coffee production. Arabica grows strictly on higher altitudes and is very disease-sensitive. Hence, the price is higher. But also, the taste and the quality are incomparable to other bean types. Arabica beans are a bit acidic, but not too much.
The taste is the thing that separates Arabica from all the other coffee types and what makes Arabica so expensive. Ethiopian coffee is the most diverse Arabica coffee when it comes to flavor notes. And of course, you can find Arabica blends in the versatile Bestpresso pods, among other blends and flavors.
Robusta takes up to 30% of the world’s coffee production. This coffee type is much more resistant to climate and diseases than all the other types. You can grow it in different altitudes and different countries. Robusta farms have substantially large crop yields, and the caffeine percentage is doubled compared to Arabica beans.
Remember that caffeine stays in your body for three to five hours, so avoid drinking coffee in the evening, especially Robusta blends. Robusta beans are price friendly and have darker aromas, similar to chocolate, nuts, and some spices. The exotic aroma of flavored coffee is usually acquired by adding flavors to Robusta beans.
Liberica takes approximately 1% of the world’s coffee production. This tall coffee plant can be grown even in a harsher climate. Hence, it is harder to harvest. Low annual yield and limited supply make Liberica so pricey. Of course, the smokey taste with floral nuances is also one of the reasons. Some of the world’s best coffee beans are Liberica type.
Formerly a different plant type, Excelsa is now part of the Liberica plant family. However, they are not that similar. Excelsa has an uncommon choice of flavors. You can find a fine mix of darker, light, and sweet aromas in the same bean. That’s why this bean type is popular as an addition to Arabica and Robusta blends. Excelsa coffee goes great with honey as a sweetener, and honey in coffee contains antimicrobial properties. So, you will get sweet, tasty, and healthy coffee every time.
Factors Needed to Grow Coffee
Coffee plants benefit from full sun, but you can also combine it with part shade. If you choose the part shade approach, your plant will have a dark green color. However, if the leaves become brownish, you need to reduce the light exposure.
The perfect soil for a coffee plant must have more than good drainage. High nitrogen and iron content is a must. If you are using regular soil, enrichen it with some organic matter and volcanic dust. For a pH range, shoot between 4 and 7. The pH value of 6 is considered a sweet spot. Coffee beans’ origins can affect the taste of your cup, and the soil is the most taste-determining important factor.
Coffee plants need water, but never too much. The soil must always have just a little moisture. So, not too wet, and never completely dry. That’s why good soil drainage is beneficial.
Temperature and Humidity
The coffee plant prefers temperatures between 60F and 75F. However, coffee can grow anywhere between 40F and 85F. Beware because temperatures below 30F will most probably kill your plant.
Your new coffee bush should be regularly fertilized. Start six weeks after planting; you should apply 100 grams of mild liquid fertilizer to your coffee tree. Repeat the process every 6 weeks for the first six months. After that, fertilize your plant once every week or two.
If you leave your Arabica coffee bush at peace, it can grow taller than 15 feet. Assuming that would make indoor planting a bit complicated, you should always prune your plant.
The best size is around seven feet so that you can harvest it easily. That is the usual procedure in coffee farms. For a bush-shaped tree, you should prune the growing tip when it’s 20 inches high. Pruning the growing tip will encourage branching.
You should repot your indoor coffee plant every spring. If you want your plant to grow higher, gradually repot it to larger containers. But if you want to stop your plant’s growth, stop repotting.
How to Grow Coffee at Home
Step 1 – Seed
If possible, find a ripe red coffee cherry, possibly from a fruitful tree. Take the inner beans out and leave them to ferment. Wash the beans and dry them. Alternatively, buy freshly harvested green seeds. We emphasize the fresh part. Stale beans won’t grow.
Step 2 – Push start
Get a small container or coffee cup and fill it with vermiculite or perlite. Moisten it and push the coffee bean just beneath the surface. You should water your beans two times a day and make sure your container has drainage holes so that excess water can come out. Hot trick: you can also germinate the bean inside the paper filter. Moisten your premium coffee filter and you have a perfect medium for growing. Pick unbleached paper filters for this procedure.
Step 3 – Repotting
If you picked fresh beans, they would germinate after 75 days. Old ones will take up to 200 days. After your bean has germinated, repot it to a larger container. This time, the growing medium must be rich in nutrients while remaining porous. Any lightweight soil will suffice. Make a small hole, and gently put the germinated bean inside.
Step 4 – Watching
Continue watching over your small plant, and water it once every day. You will notice some changes as time passes:
- After few months, your plant will look like a stalk with a bean pod on top.
- A month later, leaves will appear.
- Few months after that, your plant will look like a smaller copy of a coffee tree.
When your seed grows into a small plant, it can be further repotted, and you can pick if you keep it inside or outside.
How to Harvest Coffee Beans
Step 1 – Harvesting
You should only harvest the ripe cherries. You will notice their deep red/crimson nuance. As you don’t have 75.000 bushes, but a few, pick the cherries singlehanded. Not all cherries will be ripe at the same time, so bear that in mind.
Step 2 – Processing
Open each coffee cherry gently. Remove the green coffee beans from the inside. Gather all the beans and soak them in a container full of water.
Step 3 – Drying
After few days, you will notice bubbles in the water. That means your beans are fermented, and they are ready for the next step. Wash the beans and leave them drying in the sun for seven days.
Step 4 – Roasting
Peel your dry coffee beans until only the shiny green bean is left. After that, it is roasting time. You can roast your green beans in a popcorn maker, baking sheet, or any pot with a lid. Or, you can buy a smaller home roaster if you have a bigger batch of beans. Enjoy your cup of coffee, guilt-free. Coffee is full of benefits that will emphasize the fasting process, so you can drink it even if you are fastening or on a diet.
Do’s and Don’ts When Growing Coffee
- Do take your time. Coffee growing is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Do always plant more seeds than you need. Some of them won’t grow. And, you can always gift the excess plants to your loved ones.
- Do locate your coffee tree far away from children and pets.
- Don’t neglect your plant. If you can’t take care of it, donate it to someone who can.
- Don’t overwater your coffee plant, as it might get sick from it.
FAQ About Growing Coffee
How long does it take to grow coffee?
Usually, it takes three to five years for the first cherries to appear on your coffee tree. After that, the expected lifespan of the tree is 15 years.
Is it legal to grow coffee?
Yes, it is. Coffee is a 100% legal plant, and no law whatsoever can stop you from growing your coffee tree or coffee plantation.
Is coffee hard to grow?
Coffee in a pot is a pretty simple plant to grow. If you want to grow coffee outside, you will have to live in a coffee belt. Only there the temperature, light, and humidity are appropriate for coffee growing.
What is needed to grow coffee?
Nothing much. For indoor growing, you need a sunny location, warm temperatures, a pinch of fertilizer now and then, and a lot of water. For outside growing, it is pretty much the same. But, without controlling the temperature, you will need to live in a coffee belt.
Can you grow coffee in the USA?
Oh, it is more than possible. Kona coffee is grown in Hawaii, and for a long time, it was the only state where the coffee is grown. But a beautiful farm project took place in California and Texas, and now we have two more states growing their own coffee. Only Hawaii is in the coffee belt, but, obviously, it is possible to grow coffee in California and Texas.
How long will it take for my coffee plant to flower?
If properly cared for, your coffee plant will need three to five years to start blossoming. If your plant didn’t flower in the 5-year interval, you are doing something wrong.
How many coffee plants do I need to grow my own coffee?
Oh, that would be nice, growing the coffee in your garden and drinking fruits of your labor. One coffee bush usually produces cca 4,000 beans annually. After picking, processing and roasting, you are left with one to two pounds of coffee beans. That’s not that much. To be self-sufficient, you would need at least 20 coffee plants.
Admit it; it would be incredibly heart filling to make a cup of joe from a plant from your living room or garden. Will it happen? You don’t know until you try. All it will cost you is one green bean and few minutes of your precious time.
Photos from: exopixel / depositphotos.com, Imagesto / depositphotos.com, nimon_t / depositphotos.com and MyroslavaY / depositphotos.com.