Whether you’re an avid gardener in search of a challenge, or a coffee devotee who wants to show their appreciation to the bean, growing your own coffee plants will prove to be a challenging adventure for all who attempt it.
Coffee is grown from the COFFEA ARABICA plant. It is a lovely plant with dark green foliage, white flowers, and brightly colored berries enjoy this as long as you can, as your first actual coffee beans to harvest will not appear for at least four years. Coffee plants produce the majority of their beans from the sixth to the sixteenth year and will continue living for nearly sixty.
When these plants are grown outdoors in the right climate, they can reach a height of nearly forty feet. However, they can be kept at a height that is more manageable for your purposes without it affecting their production. Even so, you might want to plant more than one a single coffee plant kept at a healthy six-foot stature will only produce between two and four pounds of coffee a year.
COFFEA ARABICA needs a very warm, sunny, and moist climate to flourish outdoors. A temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit all day and night, year-round is best. A few dips to 50 degrees will not harm the plant permanently, but any more than occasional dips will most likely destroy your plant. Absolutely no frost allowed. The condition of the soil you are growing in is less important than the actual climate, although having soil that is well-drained is necessary. It should be moist, but not drenched or soggy.
For most of us, growing a coffee plant will be an indoor project. You can start one of these plants a few different ways:
Buy a seedling from a nursery many nurseries carry them, call and check with the ones in your area.
If you have a friend who is already growing a coffee plant, when his or hers is established, snip a cutting from it.
Plant green coffee beans. This is the least reliable and slowest way, so if you want to come up with a few plants, you should plant A LOT of beans! Beans should be planted a half-inch deep in potting soil. Fresh beans should sprout within a month, ones that are older will take longer if they sprout at all.
Some growers say that filtered sunlight is best for the coffee plant, while others say that bright direct sunlight is best. Experiment with your plant to know which it prefers. And while figuring out what your coffee plant wants for light, don’t forget to fertilize once or twice a month.
If you are lucky and your plant grows old enough to harvest beans from it, the next step is to roast the beans. This requires either purchasing a home roaster or trying to tough it out with your oven. Roasting in the oven will produce a far less even roast than a home roaster, and also tends to fill the kitchen area with smoke. It requires keeping a very close eye on everything during the process.
To roast in the oven, the beans are placed in a steel strainer and then into the oven at 250 degrees for 8-10 minutes. After this period, crank the oven to 450 degrees and listen for the beans to start crackling. Mix them up and keep an eye on them. When they are a little lighter than the color you want them to be, take them out of the oven. (Beans will continue to roast after you have removed them from the oven.) When they cool, store them whole or grind them up and brew a fresh pot of joe.
If you’re ready to begin the challenge of growing a coffee plant, don’t wait to get started it’s a long time until you’ll brew your first pot. If nothing else, the process will help you to realize the work that goes into your morning cup of coffee. Good luck, and happy growing!