Coffee Beans at Home
coffee plants at home is a rewarding experience that will
help you learn and appreciate the work involved in producing
coffee. It is a very easy plant to take
care of and is a great conversation piece, especially during
flowering or cherry development.
When home growing coffee beans, you should start with a freshly
picked coffee cherry. But unless you are in a producing
country, however, this may not be possible and you can skip to
Harvesting Coffee and Preparing the Coffee Seeds
Ripe coffee cherries should be harvested and picked
from trees with a high production and without any disease
or other affliction. Pulp the cherry by hand, wash
with water, and ferment in a small container until
the pulp falls off. This can be determined
simply by rubbing the coffee bean in you hands during the
fermentation process. Wash again
with fresh water. Any coffee beans that float at any
stage of washing should be discarded. The coffee 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 bite
the bean open to ensure that it is dry on the outside and
slightly soft and moist on the inside. Alternatively,
a pulped coffee bean can be used immediately for planting and in
some areas this is considered advantageous.
Germinating Coffee Beans
If coffee cherries are not readily available,
green coffee can be purchased from a green coffee supplier, but
it is essential that the bean is of a recent crop and recent
shipment. I would recommend ordering green coffee
from Sweet Maria's
and asking for the most recent crop. Sweet Maria's also provides tips for growing coffeea arabica at home.
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. Coffee in pergamino is even better.
If this is available plant the coffee face down in the pergamino.
It is advisable to pre-germinate the seeds.
First soak the coffee seeds in water for 24 hours. Then sow
the seeds in damp sand or wet vermiculite in which the excess
water has been drained. Otherwise, you can place the
seeds between moist coffee sacks, which should be watered
twice a day and drained well.
Once the coffee seed germinates, very carefully
remove it from the sand, vermiculite, or burlap bags.
Make a hole about 1.25 cm deep in a
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 the hole and sprinkle soil over 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 coffee plant should either
be left alone or carefully removed and planted in a soil
with a low pH (acidic) 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.
Coffee Plant Care
The coffee 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. Water the
tree twice per week in what is called a full watering and a
half watering. In a half watering, simply add some
water to the soil and allow it to drain. In a full
watering, 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 drained.
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 coffee growing 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 the coffee.
Conditions for Growing Coffee