Are you wondering if you’re able to grow a coffee plant at home in your current state? Luckily, you can! But under some circumstances.
While growing coffee seems possible, most of the time, it is somewhat challenging, especially if you’re not located in a coffee-producing region. In reality, coffee plants can’t survive in all countries and can’t tolerate all kinds of climate.
So, if you want to grow a coffee plant at home, you need to provide suitable growing conditions for the coffee to grow and survive. At the same time, you need to make an effort to maintain a strong, healthy, and productive plant possible.
In this guide, we’ve provided proven steps to follow, from choosing the type of coffee to managing it to grow. Read on to learn more about this plant and how to grow it in your own dedicated space.
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Things You Need to Consider
Important: Again, it is possible to grow your own coffee at home. However, there are still some obstacles as most coffee species need to achieve requirements where a particular country can’t provide. So, before we get started, I want to give you some insights and possible limitations that you need to consider.
It isn’t easy to actually grow enough coffee for consumption or to replace your local roaster. You need to have at least 30 plants in order to produce enough coffee beans.
It’s rare to make the plants produce fruits because most prefer high altitudes or the forest. That is the suitable environment for getting the food they need to grow, reproduce, and yield coffee cherries.
Some coffee plants depend entirely on cross-pollination. It means that coffee needs bees or pollinators to flower and produce coffee cherries.
It’s also impossible to trigger the flowering of plants in some counties. The flowering peak only occurs during the rainy season, mostly prevalent in countries near the equator.
But after all, it’s all down to your intention. You want to grow a coffee plant at home because maybe it is an excellent addition to your garden or houseplant. And if that’s the case, let’s delve in!
Step1: Choosing the type of Coffee to Grow
There are so many varieties of coffee, but technically, you can only plant either Arabica or Robusta. And it would help if you also research first before deciding which coffee you want to grow at home.
While it seems possible to grow any of these coffees at home, it would still be best to know their characteristics and differences. As much as possible, you should also grow them under viable conditions that match their needs.
Here are the most important things you need to know to help you determine the right plant that matches your environment:
Arabica and Robusta have different tolerance in terms of growing temperature, climate, etc. Growing these coffee plants have their own advantages and challenges as well.
Arabica is challenging to grow because it is sensitive to harsher climates. If you want to grow this coffee plant at home, make sure you’re willing to give the extra effort and raise it with enough care.
However, aside from having superior taste and aromatics, the good thing about Arabica is that they are self-pollinating plants. It means that they will flower and produce fruits by themselves, without the help of bees. So, Arabica seems the right and easiest plant to get started with.
On the other hand, Robusta is almost the opposite. There’s a higher chance to successfully grow this coffee plant at home because it can tolerate a harsher environment. But not freezing environment.
Aside from having inferior taste and quality, the only downside is that they depend entirely on cross-pollination. Which means these coffee plants need bees to flower and yield a bunch of coffee cherries.
So, Robusta coffee seems not the right choice if you don’t have bees or pollinators at home. However, you can still grow Robusta coffees as houseplants.
Step2: Outsourcing the Coffee Seeds
To start growing coffee at home, you need to plant the seeds. But after deciding on the coffee variety, where to outsource seeds?
Usually, since I live in a coffee-producing country, we typically start with a recently picked coffee cherry. The advantage of it is that you can directly plant the freshly extracted seeds without having them germinated.
However, of course, not everyone has access to freshly picked coffee cherries. Luckily, there are three ways you can do to obtain these seeds no matter where you are:
Buy green beans at your favorite roaster.
Buy them from sellers or green beans suppliers.
Purchase them from accredited nurseries.
But can you plant and grow the green beans you obtained from a roaster or seller? While they’re typically for roasting, they can still be grown into coffee plants.
A coffee bean is actually a seed. It is often referred to as a bean because it has the basic appearance of a regular bean. And usually, you can either roast and brew it to make a delicious coffee or plant and grow the bean into a coffee tree.
Step3: Pre-Germinating the Seeds
You should pre-germinate the beans you purchased from roasters before you continue with the next step.
Do note that there’s a slight difference between the seeds provided by roasters or suppliers from the seeds of a freshly harvested coffee cherry. This is because the beans from roasters are dried to an optimum moisture content compared to the fresh ones.
You can’t directly plant the seeds or make them sprout without soaking them in water. Make sure the seed is dry on the outside while being soft and moist on the inside. This increases the rate and percentage of seedlings to be established.
Pre- germinating or soaking of seeds is an initial process of attaining sufficient moisture for coffee seeds to initiate the germination process.
So, after obtaining the green coffee beans, soak them in water for 24 hours. In some cases, especially if you stored the beans for over a year (old seeds), this process may take 36 hours.
Step4: Germinating the Seeds at Home
Then, this is the phase where the process of germination takes place. But what does germination really mean?
Germination is simply the sprouting of the seeds. It is where the seeds start developing and forming into seedlings.
So, after 24 hours of pre-germination, rinse the seeds from the water and leave them into a medium to germinate. You can:
Sow the seeds into wet puddled seedbeds or standing water.
Sow them into damp vermiculite, coffee sacks, or burlap bags.
You can also place the seeds into a container with moist sand.
We normally place the seeds in a seedbed filled with moist or treated sand to develop and trigger initial growth. But since you’re growing coffee at home, you can just put the seeds into a container with moist sand. First, however, make sure that the container has holes at the bottom to help drain the excess amount of water.
Having that said, you should also water the seeds at least twice a day to ensure faster development. Then all you need to do is wait. Just let the seeds stay in the container for 2-3 months. Typically, the germination process of coffee takes about 2-6 months and six months or more for old seeds.
Step5: Transferring the Seedlings into the Pots
So, after months of waiting, the seeds should have already sprouted. At this point, you can already move the seedlings to individual mediums filled with fertile soil.
Coffee producers generally transfer the seedlings to individual bags (polythene bags) filled with a mixture of substrate or soil and organic material.
But in your case, you can carefully transplant them to individual pots to make them suitable as indoor and outdoor houseplants. Make sure to fill the pots with crumbly loam soil with high humus content. Also, transfer the seedlings only when they’re ready.
There are no technical ways of doing this process. But these are the steps that they usually implement:
Check the tap roots if they’re about 0.25 (1/4) inches. If the seedling didn’t reach this condition, that means the seedling is very young. Let it stay in the container for more time.
Put rotted manure, bone meal, dried blood, or any organic elements into the pots to help increase soil nutrients. For better growth, it is also great if the soil acidity is between pH of 5 to 5.5.
After that, make a hole of at least 1.5-inch-deep in the soil. Make sure the roots fit in. This way, you can avoid the risk of poor growth and root problems.
Next, smoothly move the seedlings with the taproot facing down into the hole.
Then, cover a little bit of soil over the hole while letting the other half of the seedling out.
Step6: Controlling the Amount of Light.
A young coffee plant should not be exposed to direct sunlight. This may turn the coffee plant leaves brown. Therefore, you need to control the amount of light that the seedlings acquire.
Once the seedlings are grown into young plants, they can generally tolerate outdoor conditions. So, you may want to move the plants outside while keeping them under a small light. You can do this by placing the plants under the shade of others trees (if there’s any). The other way is to cover them with plastic or any wrap to prevent or control direct sunlight.
If you want to grow your coffee indoor or as houseplants, you can put them inside your house. But make sure to place them near the window to acquire some light.
Step7: Managing the Coffee Plants
At this stage, all you have to do is to take care, manage and wait for the plant to grow, mature, flower, and yield.
Fertilizers – You may need to implement some factors or techniques to fast track your coffee’s growth. You may want to use special fertilizers or improved water management, etc., to make sure you have a healthy plant.
Water Management – As your coffee plant grows, you also need sufficient water. It is recommended to enable a water system to help nutrient absorption. You may don’t need to water your plant every day. What matters is to prevent the soil from getting very dry as well as getting drown. Just keep the soil moist most of the time.
Sunshine – According to some coffee producers, a mature coffee plant should acquire a maximum of 1800 hours of sun in a year. So, you may need to frequently move your coffee plants outside to collect some sunshine continually.
Pruning – A coffee can grow as large as a typical tree. Therefore, as the coffee plant grows, you need to trim it or cut its growing tip to limit its height. You can do this to all coffee plants that are already tall enough to fit inside your house.
Once you’ve managed to grow your coffee to its appropriate maturity, at this point, your coffee plant is already resilient and can grow on its own. So, even if you leave it at home, it can stand still as long as you don’t let it die from pests and diseases.
FAQ’s About Growing Coffee
How Long for a Coffee Plant to Grow?
Coffee trees just didn’t come from anywhere. The beans you roast, grind, and brew came from series of maturity.
Initial Growing – The coffee will take its initial growth at the germination phase. Then you will wait for more or less one year for the seedlings to grow and have at least six pairs of leaves.
Maturation Stage – After having leaves, we usually transfer the plants to a larger field. But since you grow them at home, you will wait for about three years for the plants to hardened and show maturity in their respective pots.
Flowering Stage – Once the plants matured enough, they will begin to flower. The flowering occurs once or twice a year, depending on the variety and weather conditions. It will take 3-6 months for the flowering to end.
Yielding and Ripening – After the flowering period, the plants start bearing fruits. It will take 7-8 months for the fruits to ripen. Then this is the time to harvest and process those fruits.
So, all in all, it will take approximately 4 to 5 years for a coffee plant to grow and produce coffee cherries. However, this is only an approximation as it may depend on various conditions. The variety of coffee, climate conditions, and growing techniques are some factors that may also affect the coffee’s growth.
Can You Grow a Coffee Plant Anywhere?
Coffee plants can’t survive in all countries and can’t tolerate all kinds of climate. That’s why you can’t grow coffee just anywhere. This is also one reason why only selected countries can grow and produce a massive amount of coffee beans.
Typically, most coffees thrive in tropical countries because these regions have the ideal growing conditions where the coffee plants likely to prosper. They have a cold to warm, a rainier, and a cloudier climate, including mountainous and volcanic surroundings that help coffee grow and survive.
So, if your country belongs to the coffee bean belt, then you can grow your coffee plant at any expense.
However, if you’re not in these regions, the best thing you can do is create an environment that mimics the coffee’s ideal and natural growing conditions. Simultaneously, put the effort to take action – to take care and manage the coffee properly.
Can You Keep the Coffee Plant Forever?
The majority of coffee plants can survive for about 70 years. If you properly managed to grow your coffee, then expect it to live longer.
However, it really depends and under the circumstances. Various factors define the lifespan of your coffee, such as infestations that can impact the health and growth of the coffee tree, making it hard to reach that average lifespan.
In other cases, coffee trees can only last for a couple of years due to common health and growth problems. So, if you’re going to plant coffee anywhere, sure, it may grow and even produce crops. But if the needed requirements aren’t met, over time, it will eventually die.
If you want your coffee plant to live longer, you need to implement necessary actions involving the growing of coffee continually.
What are the Countries that Grow Coffee?
The countries that grow coffee are mostly located around the equator called the “coffee bean belt.” Some of the best coffee comes from South America as well as Africa.
Arabica is primarily grown in Brazil, Colombia, and Ethiopia, which are also the most Arabica coffee-producing countries. But you can also find it in other countries such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, and other parts of Asia.
Robusta is generally grown in Southeast Asia and West Africa. Nowadays, it’s primarily grown in Vietnam, making it the world’s leading producer of Robusta coffee (although some country in Southeast Asia produces a significant amount of it).
Liberica coffee originally comes from the western and central parts of Africa. But nowadays, it has become naturally grown in most parts of Southeast Asia like the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, including the islands of Nicobar, Seychelles, and Andaman.