Oh coffee, I love you with your magical energy giving abilities! Wouldn’t it be nice to know how to grow your own coffee plant at home?!
All of the caffeine junkies you know will be hitting you up!
I’ll tell you now, you will need lots of patience if you’re going to grow from seed!
If feel up to the, very rewarding challenge of growing from seed the best place to get quality seeds is from sweet maria’s. You can also get them off of amazon, however the seeds you get from amazon aren’t always guaranteed fresh.
Before you buy your seeds (or just purchase some plants).
Its good to know that the best tasting beans come from a healthy well cultivated Coffee Arbica plant, which is the species that produces roughly 75% of the worlds coffee.
You may have also heard of Robusta coffee as well, This is the second most popular variety that is commonly traded. But it is a far second place.
It is a well known fact that Arbacia coffee plants produce a better tasting cup of coffee.
This is not to say that every cup of Arabic coffee will always be superior to a cup of Robusta.
A lot goes in to making a good bean.
For instance, how the plant has been cared for; has it been fed regularly and water regularly?
What was the climate like? If it’s a little too hot or too cold coffee will just stop growing. Coffee is kind of a finicky plant, Arbica in particular.
Arbica coffee plants are harder to care for compared to the heartier Robusta.
That’s just something I think we should make note of as home growers who probably don’t have the ideal growing conditions like most coffee farms do.(working conditions is another story)
So let’s first define what a healthy coffee plant is, It’s good to have an end goal in mind when caring for anything.
The only metrics we have to measure our coffee plant by is how much growth and yield it produces. Basically, our end goal is to have our coffee plant as healthy as possible so that it can grow and produce as much as possible.
That may seem pretty straight forward and a little silly to say, I mean of course we want those things. I just believe that you should have an end goal stated clearly and in mind before you start anything.
I want you to have the best cup of home grown coffee that you can have.
Stating this goal is an important step! Having a healthy coffee plant is crucial to producing the nectar of the gods.
So now that we know what we want to accomplish by caring for our coffee plant let’s actually talk about what conditions Coffee likes to grow in and different practices you can use for providing the best environment.
Origins and climate
Let’s get to know our friend coffee a little bit, it’s origins are actually that of legend, according to the National Coffee Association USA
“No one knows exactly how or when it was discovered, though there are many legends about it’s origin.”
Where ever coffee originated from doesn’t make that big of a difference to us as home growers but what we do need to know is that coffee thrives in two optimal climates according to coffee research.org.
These climates are found close to the equator and then an area 10-24 degrees north or south of the equator.
The best conditions for coffee to be grown in is found near the equatorial zone. In a region called the “bean belt.”
Most of these areas are on mountain tops at elevations of between 1800-6300 feet above sea level.
a higher elevation does make a better cup of coffee, that’s for sure. The higher altitude allows the beans a better environment to develop more. The air is thinner and this let’s the bean become more dense as it ripens slower, packing itself with great tasting sugars.
But something to note is that most of these plantations are growing Arbica coffee.
Not all of us have the luxury of being on a mountain but fear not, you can still have a happy plant that produces good beans, even if you don’t live on a mountain range.
You can grow a healthy thriving Robusta plant at sea level without a problem. Robusta has a lot more forgiveness when it comes to it’s living conditions but it is a lower quality bean.
But if you have the dedication you can certainly grow a healthy Arbica plant at home too.
Altitude is not the only thing that affects a coffee’s taste, There is a long list of things that will alter the flavor of your coffee. The variety, the soil, rainfall, amount of sun, and the way the beans are processed all affect the final outcome.
Coffee is a tropical to sub-tropical evergreen shrub, meaning that it likes some warmth and lots of rainfall.
According to NOAA, Coffee arbica’s ideal temperature range for growing is 64°–70°F.
Arbica Coffee can still be grown in conditions where the temperature is above or below that mark. Remember, that range is the ideal temperature.
I know many people say that they have grown them in temps up to 80°F.
If it’s a little warmer, fruit development will begin to accelerate. At first that may not sound like a bad thing. However, ripening at a quick pace does not allow the plant to pump the bean full of flavorful sugars that provide a great taste.
But not many of us around the world have constantly beautiful temps year round. For this reason, I recommend having your plants permanent home be mobile!
By planting your coffee tree in a pot you are able to bring the plant inside your home or green house if conditions get too hot or too cold.
When it comes to coffee Robusta, these plants can really thrive in much warmer climates(64-97°F).
Since Robusta likes it warm that means it also likes to drink a lot more, So be prepared to water your plant!
Neither Robusta or Arabic plant likes frost. They actually hate it to death! (literally.)
If you expect frost be sure to take your plants to a warmer environment, whether that be to a green house or just inside your home.
I’ll talk more about how we can alter our climates to make coffee happy a little later.
How much sunlight for A coffee plant?
Coffee arabica is an under story type of plant, meaning that it prefers to grow in the shade of larger trees. Coffee prefers bright, but indirect light.
This can be a hard balance to find. According to coffee review, it seems a total of 2 hours of direct sunlight is the magic number for coffee Arbica.
I find the best luck when my plant receives lots of bright light in the early morning.
As the day goes on I have my plants positioned so that they receive shade from surrounding trees so that the intense mid day sun can not beat down on them.
If you are at the mercy of a wide open field with no trees you can still provide your plants shade by easily building a shade structure with shade cloth.
You can build a pretty simple structure out of pvc pipe or 2x4s.
This will really help in lowering the temperature around your plant as well.
If you need to bring your coffee plant inside because the outside weather isn’t being very nice to your plant, be sure that it still gets plenty of indirect sunlight.
Place your plant near a south facing window. These windows get the most sunlight from your house…I guess unless you have a tree blocking those windows…in that case just pick the brightest window you have!
An important note about growing coffee indoors: You will need to provide the humidity that is ideal for coffee, this is simply done by placing your plant on top of a tray full of rocks and water. This will raise the relative humidity in the surrounding area of your coffee tree.
Soil and watering:
When Learning how to grow coffee this topic is an important one and the rules to soil generally apply to both arbica and robusta.
Coffee prefers a loamy soil with good water retention but also good drainage. The soil needs to be rich in nutrients to supply the plant with all the essentials for life and a great harvest. Ideal soil conditions are crucial. There is so much to talk about when it comes to soil that I have created a separate article here: soil conditions for coffee.
When it comes to watering, coffee prefers that the soil be moist but not soaking wet. It likes to have water available so that it can take a sip whenever it wants but not drown. This is easier to accomplish with the proper soil mixture which I talk about in my article about ideal coffee soil.
Another note is that when watering, try watering with water that is slightly warm. This mimics what the plant would naturally receive and it will surely appreciate it!
TIP: If you’re having a hard time telling when you plant needs to be watered, a good indication are it’s leaves. If the leaves are droopy and hanging your plant most likely needs a little drink!
Fertilizing and pruning:
To make your Coffee plant even happier, I like to fertilizer with a well balanced fertilizer every 1-3 months. When you are dealing with younger coffee plants phosphorus is an important nutrient in It’s development. This nutrient aids with healthy root growth. When young, developing a strong root system really helps the plant grow. More roots means the plant is able to uptake more nutrients and water.
I like using this fertilizer to provide ideal nutrients when my plant is young(0-3 years).
Because coffee plants have the ability to grow so large, you will eventually have to prune your plant.
Well, really that depends on how much space you have to work with and the variety that you choose.
A Fully grown coffee plant, growing wild can be up to 40 feet tall! We wouldn’t want our plants to be that large.
That would make harvesting a real pain. On the typical coffee farm trees are trained to be about 6-7 feet tall. Depending on how much space you have you can train coffee plants into little shrubs even of 3-4 feet tall.
When pruning your coffee plant it’s generally best to do it in the early spring months before a new growth spurt.
To get a fuller, bushier plant you want to focus on pruning the new, green growth.
Take a pair of sharp, clean clippers and cut the stem at a 45 degree angle. Make this cut about a quarter of an inch above where the leaves attach to the stem.
This is known as pinching. Using this technique of only taking off the new growth signals to the plant that it should begin producing even more new growth resulting in a fuller more bushy plant.
We as home growers most likely don’t have the same conditions that a coffee plantation will have, They are very unique conditions. However, I do think some one with the dedication can certainly grow a good Arabic plant at home.
But I know that most people can grow really grow healthy Robusta plant at home, They are much easier to care for and produce a larger yield.
The big knock on Robusta is it’s flavor, Some say that it tastes a little on the burnt side.
It has a somewhat smokey taste.
But, Just because someone else doesn’t like the robusta bean doesn’t mean that you won’t like it either.
As home growers we have an advantage.If you grow them yourself the beans will be as fresh as possible.
You can have complete control over how the beans are processed, Roasted and brewed.
All things that have a dramatic affect on the taste of your cup of coffee.
My take from everything? I think you should grow both arabica and robusta.
Something that this article made me really think about is climate change and how it’s going to really affect the cofee indusrty, With warmer weather that mean that farmers are going to have to start moving higher up on the mountains.
That means less space for growing.
This is a real problem that we will have to face and I don’t know about you but I’m still gonna need my coffee.
I think choosing to grow our own coffee, even if it’s just one or two plants really helps towards the sustainability of the industry and ensures we all get our caffiene fix.
Learning how to grow coffee really isn’t that hard and I mean come on, who doesn’t love coffee. I’m pretty sure a percentage of my blood is actually coffee.
I’m willing to bet that you can make a pretty decent cup of coffee from home.
Maybe you have green beans waiting to be roasted? Find out how to be a home coffee roaster!
IF you didn’t get enough about growing coffee from this read here Is a Really detailed video all about about how to grow coffee! A gentlemen named Luke made it and he actually grows coffee in Michigan! See you don’t have to be in the bean belt to grow coffee!
This guy really knows his stuff, his youtube channel is MIgardener.