Growing a coffee plant at home is a rewarding
experience that will help you learn and appreciate the work
involved in producing a good cup of coffee. It is a
very easy plant to take care of and is a great conversation
piece, especially during flowering or cherry development.
Ideally you should start with a freshly picked
coffee cherry, but unless you are in a producing country this
will not be possible and you should skip to section 2.
Section 1. Harvesting and Preparing
the Coffee Seeds.
Ripe cherries should be harvested and picked
from trees with good production and without any disease or
other affliction. The cherry is the pulped by hand,
washed with water, and fermented in a small container. The
fermentation stage is complete when the mucilage no longer
clings to the coffee. Wash away the fermented mucilage
with fresh water. Any coffee beans that float at any
stage of washing should be discarded. The beans must
then be dried to about 20% moisture content on mesh screen
in open and dry air, but not in direct sunlight. After
pulping a coffee will have between 60-70% moisture content
so you can determine the appropriate stopping point simply
by weighing the beans. Otherwise you can simply bite
open be bean and ensure that it is dry on the outside and
slightly soft and moist on the inside. Alternatively,
a pulped bean can be used immediately for planting and in
some areas this is considered advantageous.
If coffee cherries are not readily available
green coffee can be purchased from a local supplier, but
it is essential that the bean is of a recent crop and recent
shipment. I would recommend ordering green coffee
from www.sweetmarias.com and asking for the most recent
crop. The potential for germination will continue
for almost four months, but after this time the germination
rate is several fold less and germination time is significantly
longer. Fresh seeds should germinate in 2.5 months,
but old seeds can take as long as 6 months.
It is advisable to pregerminate the seeds.
First soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. Then sow
the seeds in damp sand or wet vermiculite in which the excess
water has been drained. Alternatively, you can place
the seeds between moist coffee sacks, which should be watered
twice a day and well drained.
Once the seed germinates very carefully remove
it from the sand, vermiculite, or burlap bags. A hole
about 1.25 cm deep should be made into a soil of friable loam
soil with a high humus content. Rotted manure, bone
meal, and dried blood can also be added. If this type
of soil is not readily available try a light weight and porous
soil. Place the seed flat side down (in pergamino if
possible) in the hole and sprinkle soil to cover the hole.
Do not press the soil down firmly. Placing a 1/2 inch
of mulched grass on top will help preserve moisture, but should
be removed when the seed has fully germinated.
The seeds should be watered daily. Too
much water or too little water will kill the seed. The
soil should remain well drained, but moist at all times.
After germination the plant should either
be left alone or carefully removed and planted in a soil with
a low pH and high nitrogen content. The soil should
be porous. Therefore, course sand or basalt gravel dust
can be added. Manure can also be added. A fertilizer
that is appropriate for orchids can be used sparingly for
the coffee plant to maintain mineral levels and a low pH (acidic).
Section 3. Care.
The plant thrives under artificial plant lighting
indoors. The outside temperature in countries outside
the Tropic belt is too volatile and too cold to allow the
tree to develop. I recommend watering the tree twice
per week in what I call a full watering and a half watering.
In a half watering, I simply add some water to the soil and
allow it to drain. In a full watering I add water, allow
it to drain, and then add water with fertilizer and allow
it to drain. The key is to keep the soil most, but well
After two or three years flowering and possibly
cherries can be expected, but do not expect high-quality coffee
unless you are at a high altitude and are monitoring the conditions
of the artificial microclimate carefully. For more details
please see the rest of the agriculture section. In theory
it is feasible to grow a high-quality coffee at home under
the right conditions.
To spur flowering wait until the beginning
of winter and significantly reduce watering for 2-3 months.
When Spring begins water the plant well, which should shock
it into producing flowers. From this point forward water
well and regularly. Arabica coffee is self-fertilizing
so you will not need to worry about pollinating.
Once the cherries mature you can harvest,
pulp, ferment, dry, roast, and drink your own coffee production.
Conditions for Growing Coffee