Are you interested in cultivating your coffee plant at home? It’s a fun and rewarding project and allows you to enjoy a cup of coffee made from your homegrown beans. Growing a coffee plant at home is relatively easy but requires patience and specific care.
In this blog post, we will discuss the necessary steps to grow a coffee plant in your home successfully. This includes obtaining coffee plant seeds or a young plant, providing appropriate light and soil conditions, and ultimately harvesting your coffee beans.
How to Grow a Coffee Plant at Home:
Let’s dive into the detailed steps for growing a coffee plant at home:
- Obtaining a coffee plant or seeds:
You can purchase a young coffee plant from a local nursery or online retailer or start from seeds. If starting from seeds, buy fresh coffee seeds and plant them in a seed tray filled with moist, well-draining seed compost.
Regardless of the species you choose, the actual growth and care process for coffee plants is mostly the same. Coffee plants are typically grown in hot, humid climates, so if you live in an area with drastic seasonal temperature changes, keeping your plant indoors is best.
- Choosing a suitable pot:
Coffee plants can grow quite large, so selecting a pot that provides enough room for root growth is important. A pot with drainage holes is essential to prevent waterlogging and root rot. Fill the pot with good-quality, well-draining potting soil.
- Planting the coffee plant or seedlings:
If you are planting a young coffee plant, gently remove it from its original pot and place it in the new pot, filling any gaps around the roots with fresh soil. Water the plant thoroughly to settle the soil. If starting from seeds, plant the seedlings in the pot once they are large enough to handle and water them thoroughly.
To successfully grow a coffee plant at home, nutrient-rich soil, a temperature between 60°F and 80°F, 4 to 5 hours of sunlight, damp (but not waterlogged) soil, and patience. Whether you grow the plant indoors or outdoors, ensure the temperature remains within the appropriate range and never drops below 45°F at night.
- Providing proper light:
Coffee plants prefer bright, indirect light, so place your plant near a sunny window but avoid direct sunlight, which can damage the leaves. If you have low light levels in your location, you may need to supplement the plant’s light needs with artificial lighting.
Coffee plants prefer consistently moist soil but avoid waterlogging. Keep the soil consistently moist, but be cautious not to over-water, as it can lead to root rot. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings.
Coffee plants benefit from regular fertilization, especially during the growing season. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer and follow the package instructions for application rates. Fertilize every 4-6 weeks throughout the growing season.
Regular pruning helps maintain the health of the coffee plant and encourages bushier growth. Prune the plant to remove any yellowing or diseased leaves, and shape it as desired.
Note: Coffee plants are susceptible to pests and diseases, so it’s essential to be vigilant for any signs of problems and address them promptly. Additionally, different coffee plants have specific temperature and humidity requirements, so research the care needs of your specific plant. Appropriately, a coffee plant can grow and produce coffee beans for several years.
Taking Care of Your Coffee Plant
In coffee farms, plants are strategically placed under the shade of giant trees to receive an optimal amount of sunlight without being exposed to the full intensity of the sun’s rays.
To recreate this ideal sunlight condition, position your coffee plant near a bright window but not directly next to it. Placing it too close to direct sunlight can cause the leaves to wither or even burn.
Your coffee plant should receive around 4 to 5 hours of sunlight daily. If your home lacks a well-lit window, you may consider purchasing a timed fluorescent or full-spectrum light bulb to simulate natural sunlight.
Furthermore, coffee plants thrive in moist and humid climates. For optimal results, it’s recommended to water your coffee plant every day. The soil should remain consistently damp but not soggy. An easy watering method involves placing the entire pot in your kitchen sink and running water over it. Once the pot is thoroughly saturated, allow it to drain for a few minutes.
This approach ensures proper hydration without over-watering. If your coffee plant leaves appear wilted, dry, brown, and wavy, it indicates insufficient watering.
A general rule of thumb is never to let the soil in the coffee plant’s pot become completely dry; it should always retain some moisture.
Additionally, providing nutrient-rich soil for your coffee plant is essential to ensure healthy growth.
When purchasing fertilizer from a local hardware store or gardening shop, look for brands emphasizing “micronutrients” on their labels. Opt for water-soluble fertilizers. However, be cautious not to over-fertilize the plant, as it can be as detrimental as under-fertilization.
Varieties of Coffee Trees Suitable for Home Cultivation
The two most prevalent species of coffee are Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta. Both species are widely available, but their choice depends on your coffee preferences. Arabica is the most commonly grown and consumed coffee species worldwide. However, Arabica plants are known for their slow growth and delicate nature, requiring significant care, attention, and maintenance.
Despite these challenges, most coffee enthusiasts agree that high-quality Arabica beans offer unparalleled flavor and complexity. With proper care and preparation, Arabica coffee exhibits well-balanced notes of fruit, sweetness, nuttiness, chocolate, and acidity. Robusta is the second most common coffee species. Robusta plants grow much faster than Arabica plants.
Robusta plants are also recognized for their sturdiness and durability, making them less susceptible to damage than their fragile counterparts. Additionally, Robusta beans have nearly double the caffeine content of Arabica beans.
The drawback is that Robusta beans tend to have a more pronounced bitterness, which some people may find unappealing. However, if you prefer dark, strong, and bitter coffee, you might enjoy growing your own Robusta coffee plant!
The Ideal Time to Grow a Coffee Plant
During the period from March to October, it is recommended to fertilize your coffee plant every two weeks. However, from November to February, reduce the frequency to once a month.
If you notice brown edges on the leaves of your coffee plant, it could be a sign of over-fertilization. In such cases, decrease the frequency of fertilizer application until the leaves regain their green color.
As your plant grows, you must report it into progressively larger containers to allow the roots to spread and grow. A coffee plant can reach up to 10 feet tall at its full size! For the first few years, the plant may not flower.
This is because coffee plants take considerable time to mature and bear fruit. However, once they reach the appropriate stage of maturity, small white flowers with a citrus and jasmine scent will begin to bloom.
These flowers will last only a few days before wilting, so cherish them while they are present. These delicate blooms indicate that your plant has reached the level of maturity necessary to start bearing fruit. Approximately one to two months after fertilization, small green coffee fruits, known as “coffee cherries,” will start to develop.
Coffee plants are self-fertilizing, so manual cross-pollination is unnecessary. When the coffee cherries appear, you are one step closer to harvesting delicious coffee beans!
However, it’s essential to manage expectations. Coffee cherries are not ready for harvest until they become firm and bright red, which usually takes 8 to 9 months from their formation. Not all the cherries will ripen simultaneously, so you’ll need to monitor your coffee plant daily to identify any ripened cherries.
Can I Roast Coffee from a Homegrown Coffee Plant?
Once you have harvested your coffee cherries, it’s crucial to prepare them for the roasting process promptly, ideally within 24 hours. Each coffee cherry contains two seeds that will eventually become coffee beans after roasting.
The process of separating the seeds from the cherries is called pulping. You can manually extract the seeds from each cherry by hand, which can be laborious and time-consuming if you have many cherries. Alternatively, if you have many cherries, place them all in a bucket and use a wooden tool to crush the berries until all the seeds are squeezed out.
After separating the seeds and fruits, fill the bucket with water and stir the mixture. The skins and pulp will float to the top, allowing you to skim them off. The excellent coffee beans will sink to the bottom. Removing coffee beans that float with the skins and pulp is essential, as they may be spoiled. Once you have removed the skins, pulp, and lousy coffee beans, drain the water from the bucket, revealing a collection of coffee seeds!
Final Thoughts Coffee Plant
Growing a coffee plant from seed at home, mainly to harvest and consume the beans it produces, may not be a practical approach.
Coffee plants are notorious for their prolonged growth and maturation process. If you were to plant coffee seeds and wait for them to be ready for harvest, you would have to wait for 8 to 10 years!
This lengthy timeframe might be too demanding even for the most patient coffee lovers. Instead, purchasing an already potted coffee plant, which will mature and begin producing fruit within 3 to 4 years, is advisable. Although still a significant duration, it is a more realistic option than growing a fully mature coffee plant from seed.
If you have access to a specialized greenhouse or a hardware store with an extensive garden department, you might find potted coffee plants for purchase. Alternatively, potted coffee plants are available at reasonable prices on platforms like Amazon and eBay.
If you are genuinely enthusiastic about growing your coffee plant, it can be an enriching experience. Give it a try, and share your journey with us!