Coffee Seedlings: what to expect and how to start them

Coffee Better Growing

Be prepared to be patient if you plan on starting your coffee plant from seed! The Coffee Seedlings pictured below are probably about 10 months to a year old.


Growing coffee from a little seed can be a very rewarding process. although, It usually takes about 3-4 years of steady work to harvest your first size able batch of coffee beans.

I feel if you’re willing to put in the time and effort and have the patience, you are on a level above the average coffee drinker!

You are more of a coffee IS life kinda person, like me! Like I said this process is very rewarding to see all the way through from tiny baby seed to a mature go juice producing plant.

Your coffee plants will almost become your babies, I mean you feed them, make sure they have enough to drink and give them haircuts(pruning).

Just like a regular kid except you don’t have to wipe their butt!

So let’s get to it, I know you’re ready to get started.

First things first. No, you can not just plant some coffee beans that you buy from the store…those have been roasted and processed beyond plantability. Is that a word? Well, you know what I mean.

The most reliable way to start your coffee seedlings is from a fresh picked coffee cherry.

inside of the coffee cherry

This may be difficult to do as most of us do not live in a coffee producing region.

If you are fortunate enough to have access to ripe coffee cherries make sure that they are picked from a disease free, healthy plant.

To prepare a fresh picked coffee cherry for planting you simply remove the outer red layer of skin. What you will have left is two beans covered in a thin slimy/sticky layer called the parchment layer.

Some people have great success just plopping the seeds in the ground just like that. No need to bother removing anything except the skin!

The raw coffee cherry has a good moisture content and is unprocessed giving you the best start you can ask for in my opinion.

Others have great success with semi-dried seedlings. This involves a little bit more work than just peeling and planting. But it is another common practice that gives you good results.

Coffee Brewing Methods

according to semi-dried beans that are ready for planting will have about 20-30% moisture content.

The process for semi drying is very easy. In order to give your seedling it’s best shot, you will need to remove the parchment layer.

Simply let the seeds soak in some water for at least 8 hours but you can let them soak for up to 24 hours. After soaking, lightly rinse away anything else on the seed.

Note: If any of your seeds float to the top during the soaking process they should be discarded. They most likely will not germinate.

You will then need to lay your seedlings out to dry.

The best place to dry your beans is in an area that is out of direct sunlight with good air flow.

You can build a shallow wooden box and attach a fine screen mesh to the bottom. It Shouldn’t be too hard to gather those supplies from your local home improvement store.

If you keep this raised off the ground it allows for plenty of air flow which promotes even drying.

you can get a rough estimate of moisture content by biting into the coffee cherry, if the outside is slightly crunchy and dry but the inside is slightly soft and moist you’re probably close to the 20% range.

If getting some fresh coffee cherries is out of the question you can always buy some seeds from online suppliers.

You can purchase coffee seeds from amazon if you would like.

The problem with this is that it is hard to tell when these beans have been picked. It’s best to get the freshest seeds as possible. Sometimes when you order online that just isn’t the case.

That makes for a frustrating growing experience.


Coffee takes a while to germinate, especially if the seeds aren’t super fresh. It can potentially take up to four months to see your seeds germinate!

Fresh seeds usually will begin to take off in about 2.5 months.

When starting your coffee seedlings they prefer to grow in a medium that has good drainage as well as water retention.

Making sure the growing medium is moist but not soaked.

Having a soil full of nutrients that your coffee plant needs is really important to it’s growth. Soil texture is another factor that will contribute to root development and overall health. Your soil should be loamy. A Loamy soil has a nice balance, making it easy for root to travel through while still having good water retention.

TIP: If you go to the store and buy regular potting mix for your coffee seedling, you will most likely fail ! The perfect coffee growing medium will be slightly acidic with a high nitrogen content. This makes a peat based growing medium perfect. Another perfect soil additive is volcanic rock. This helps with nutrient content as well as soil texture.

If you haven’t already read it, check out this more detailed guide to soil.

So if you’re getting a little worried about growing coffee from seed, maybe thinking thats a long investment of time for something that might not work out.

I don’t blame you, that’s how I felt.

I actually ended up just buying some coffee plants that had already been started.

My first one I bought from my local nursery for earth day!

If your local nursery doesn’t have coffee plants you can get them on amazon. You can get a pack of 3 little coffee plants for 18.99. Not to bad.

It’s best to start your seedlings in a little 3 inch pot and transplant when the little guy reaches about 5-6 inches tall.

From there you can move it to a 5 inch pot and slowly increase the size of the pot until it’s in a final resting place of a five gallon pot or something equivalent. but that’s years down the road.

The best thing to do when starting your coffee seedlings is to start multiple at once.

It’s almost a guarantee that some of them will die and some might not even pop up! Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, plus there is never such a thing as too much coffee!

If you want to learn more about harvesting your own cup of coffee, Read my article where I talk all about the coffee cherry and how to harvest the perfect bean.

Want to know how to grow your own coffee?