Growing Coffee at home: Many coffee drinkers usually only know the coffee plant as a picture on their coffee pack or from articles about coffee growing. But can you even grow such a plant yourself at home, which will one day bear caffeine-rich coffee cherries? Yes you can! However, with one coffee plant or even 10 plants you will hardly become self-sufficient with home-ripened coffee beans – the cultivation simply takes too long or the plants do not bear enough fruit. Anyone who has a coffee plant in their own four walls is more likely to do so because they are a lover or a botanist.
Nevertheless, the soft green is a beauty and will delight every coffee fan! Therefore, we are going to show you in more detail how you can grow a coffee plant yourself.
Growing Coffee at Home
- The Coffee Plant: How it conquered the World
- The wild coffee plant became a cultural asset
- What the Coffee plant likes: Growing conditions
- Grow your own coffee plant at home
- Choosing the best raw bean for your coffee plant
- Growing a coffee plant from raw beans: Here’s how
- Watering green Coffee beans
- Planting sprouts
- Caring the young coffee plant
- Underrated: The irrigation water for the coffee plant
- Large Coffee plant: Flowers, fruits and seedlings
- Buy ready-made Coffee plants for your home
The Coffee Plant: How it conquered the World
The coffee plant originally put down its first roots in the kingdom of Kaffa – today’s Ethiopia. It is said that a shepherd was said to have seen one of his goats hopping around, lively and sleepless after eating a certain bush. The shepherd himself nibbled on its red fruits with interest. Pooh! It just tasted bitter, and so he haunted her into the fire in disgust.
As a result, the well-known, fragrant coffee smell spread: The shepherd had come across coffee roasting by chance! From then on he is said to have prepared invigorating drinks from the coffee beans together with his colleagues over the fire – he had not only come across the process of roasting over an open fire, but also the stimulating effect of caffeine! With that, the history and cultivation of coffee took its course. And just like in the past, coffee beans are sometimes still roasted in a bowl over an open fire in African countries.
The wild coffee plant became a cultural asset
The news of the awakening coffee from Kaffa spread quickly. Soon, more precisely in the 14th century, the coffee plant was brought to Arabia by traders for cultivation – where, with Mocha & Co., very special traditions developed and the first coffee houses emerged. Coffee was later grown in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and on the Indonesian island of Java. “Java coffee” soon became an established term here.
The fact that the coffee plant finally came to Europe was primarily thanks to travelers who enjoyed the new drink in coffee houses in the Arab world. They reported on it, introduced coffee beans, and contributed to the development of the first coffee houses in Europe. Ultimately, it is said to have been a Dutch governor who brought the coffee plant with him from Dutch colonies such as Java in 1710 in order to cultivate it at home in botanical gardens. In the course of colonization, coffee also found its way to Martinique, Guadaloupe, Brazil and other well-known growing areas, where it can be grown lucratively thanks to the tropical climate.
What the Coffee plant likes: Growing conditions
The fact that the coffee plant was first a wild plant and was later successfully cultivated shows that it is quite possible to grow it yourself. However, the plants are really sensitive and there is a reason why they thrive particularly well near the equator – in countries around the so-called “coffee belt” such as Ethiopia, Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam and Indonesia. The growing conditions are particularly favorable here:
The best growing conditions for coffee plants:
- humid and dry climate
- no major temperature fluctuations
- Attachment height of at least 800 meters
- fertile, slightly acidic soil – best in mixed cultures
- Protection from too much wind, rain and sun
How can you get such sub-tropical dream conditions at home to harvest coffee cherries? You don’t need it at all! The coffee belt is suitable for growing coffee on a very large scale. In your own four walls you can still grow a small coffee plant – either as a seed from raw coffee beans or as a sprout bought from a gardener – if you only pay attention to a few things.
Grow your own coffee plant at home
About 4 weeks ago we made green coffee for the first time. And we were amazed at how quickly the raw coffee beans soaked in the water overnight began to sprout! Then the thought flashed, but just let a sprouting bean grow into a coffee plant – and one day enjoy self-brewed and roasted coffee.
Sounds utopian? In fact, it’s not easy to grow coffee at home in untropical North America or northern Europe. With the right care, a lot of patience and some background knowledge, however, it is quite possible! You just shouldn’t expect to harvest enough coffee cherries from the local coffee plant to get enough raw beans for home roasting. Just look forward to the pretty plant with the many leaves and white, jasmine-scented flowers! A few fruits will also be there after a while.
Choosing the best raw bean for your coffee plant
There are more than 100 different types of coffee worldwide, the best known of which are Arabica and Robusta. The reason is that they simply thrive or are most efficiently grown. Other varieties usually have a lower caffeine content, which makes them less resistant to pests in the wild. In addition, common Arabica and Robusta varieties have now been bred to grow particularly well. So if you are hoping to successfully grow your coffee plant yourself and even harvest a few coffee beans, then also opt for raw beans of Arabica or Robusta varieties.
The raw beans are the green, as yet unroasted “kernels” of the coffee cherry, which grows as a fruit on the coffee plant. Today you can buy raw beans at coffee roasters or online. Make sure that you get organic quality: In other words, raw beans from plants that grow ecologically and without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
As soon as your raw beans are there, you can start growing your coffee plant. It is good if you catch young or fresh raw beans that still have residual moisture. You can recognize them by their grassy and slightly sour smell – this is, along with other plant ingredients, the natural caffeine that flows towards your nose. Only fresh raw beans are suitable for growing, because when they are more than 2 months old, they gradually lose their ability to germinate.
Growing a coffee plant from raw beans: Here’s how
All you need for a coffee plant is a high-quality coffee bean, some water and soil. To increase the chances that a really beautiful and healthy coffee plant will grow from it, you should plant several seedlings at the same time. If several plants actually thrive from this “litter”, you have a green thumb, your own mini-plantation or, alternatively, a nice present for the next coffee guests.
Watering green Coffee beans
To get a seedling from the raw coffee bean, you should first remove the parchment membrane. It envelops the two raw beans once they have been peeled from the coffee cherry. Then soak the raw bean in lukewarm water for a few hours (e.g. overnight) to germinate. To keep the water temperature constant at the 25 to 30 degrees required for germination, you can simply use a thermos or a thermos mug. If you don’t have both of these on hand, just place a sealed vessel on the heater overnight.
If some coffee beans swim on top after watering, then by the way, it is recommended not to use them for planting – because there is not much life left in them and they are unlikely to turn out. With suitable raw beans, you can see the sprout slightly shimmering through, especially after watering. This can also be observed in the following documentation on growing a coffee plant from the seed.
The next step is to distribute your watered raw beans or sprouts in small flower pots filled with fresh seed soil. It is best to give each sprout its own pot so that it has enough space as it grows. Press the sprout lightly into the soil without completely covering it with soil. In the beginning, some people also use small (plastic) cups instead of “real” flower pots – e.g. yogurt cups that have been kept and properly cleaned for this purpose.
Your offspring for the coffee plants like to have it warm and humid, just as it corresponds to their natural growing conditions. So put them in a warm place (23 ° C) that is bright enough but not in the blazing sun – partial shade would be ideal.
You have to keep the soil in the flower pots nice and moist without waterlogging. You can do this if the flower pot has a hole at the bottom through which excess water can drain off. You should also ensure a permanently high level of humidity by covering the flower pot with a plastic hood or some cling film. Instead, you can also use a (further) transparent plastic cup with holes so that the flourishing coffee plant still gets enough fresh air and at the same time no mold can form.
Caring the young coffee plant
Now you have to give your little sprouts about 2 months to germinate, until the first green of your steadily growing coffee plant shows. As soon as it has two leaves, you can carefully transplant it into a larger flower pot, in which it can develop even better. Here, too, she likes it as in the natural growing regions: a climate that is as tropical as possible. The warm, bright location in partial shade can therefore remain calm so that your coffee plant might one day bear the first fruits.
When the temperatures outside climb to 20 degrees and more, you can also put the coffee plant outside. But be careful: In direct sunlight, its leaves burn very quickly – even outside, it has to be in partial shade. And as soon as the temperatures drop in the evening, the coffee plant also wants to move back to the warmer four walls.
What a young coffee plant doesn’t need, by the way, is fertilizer or substrate: This makes it too “comfortable” and is less inclined to send deep roots into the ground in search of nutrients. It only makes sense for adult coffee plants or their seedlings!
Underrated: The irrigation water for the coffee plant
Proper watering is essential in order not to mess with the growing coffee plant. As I said, it needs a moist soil, but no waterlogging – which can be achieved with a flower pot with a drainage hole on the bottom. How often you have to water it depends heavily on the environment (e.g. air temperature, humidity and solar radiation) and the time of year. In summer it may be a little morning and evening, in winter only every few days. Watch the plant – if it lets the leaves hang a little, it will be thirsty. If the soil is too moist, it needs less water. The type of irrigation water is also decisive:
The coffee plant does not like calcareous (alkaline) tap water. Instead, she likes softer (slightly acidic) water that should not be too warm or too cold. If your tap water is calcareous and therefore harder, you should think about a water filter – by the way, this is also good for the brewing water when making coffee! To water your coffee plant, you can make the filtered water a little more acidic by adding a little lemon juice.
If you have a garden with a rain barrel at home, use the rainwater for watering. It’s naturally quite soft and slightly acidic, just like coffee plants like it to be! You can also regularly spray her leaves a little with her favorite water to maintain the necessary humidity.
Large Coffee plant: Flowers, fruits and seedlings
It can take years for your plant to bear fruit. In nature, it takes the coffee farmer at least three years for the coffee plant to develop the first white flowers that smell of jasmine. It then takes another year for the first coffee cherries to grow with the beans in them. First they look green, later – in keeping with their name – cherry red. As a hobby gardener, you will probably not be able to harvest enough raw beans to roast them and make a coffee out of them.
It does not matter anyway! If you have a fully grown coffee plant, you can branch off seedlings and plant them again. The so-called “head cuttings” with one style and several pairs of leaves, which can be obtained especially in spring, are best suited for this. You can plant them directly according to the usual principle, and possibly even spoil them with some substrate.
At some point, you may really have enough coffee cherries for a first rich harvest. But for that you really need some plants, of course a lot of time and the well-known green thumb. Until then, you can enjoy the beautiful look and smell of the coffee plants and feel connected to her in a special way with every sip of coffee you drink in her presence.
Buy ready-made Coffee plants for your home
If you are not the most patient hobby gardener, you can make it easier for yourself by growing a coffee plant. Instead of buying raw beans yourself, a growing kit with all the trimmings and detailed instructions may be right for you. Something like this is now available online from various providers and is also a popular coffee gift! Sometimes you can find coffee plants at the nursery too