A global map of where coffee is grown would show the most tropical areas around the world. Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hawaii, Kenya, Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast in South America and Africa are top coffee producers. In Asia, Viet Nam and Indonesia are the two coffee producers on this continent, according to the US National Coffee Association. It was inevitable that learning how to grow coffee at home would soon become a hobby. The number of specialty coffees found today in cafes and local coffee shops helped to spawn this new hobby. With a little bit of study and the right technique, it’s possible to enjoy your own indoor coffee plantation.
Study the Special Needs of Coffee Plants
The proper name for coffee plants is “coffea.” The leaves of coffee plants are deep, glossy green and striated. They look similar to that of another relatively tropical plant, camellias. The appearance of ripened, red berries makes it look similar to a holly plant. That’s where the similarities end.
A coffee plant produces sturdy canes and has white star-like blooms from whence red berries begin to appear. The white blooms grow in clusters. These coffee plants can grow up to six feet in height and four feet in width and maintain a relatively modest tree shape. Coffee growers keep their growth under control with regular pruning.
How to Grow Coffee Beans
For proper care of coffee plants, study their special needs. For example, the soil must be rich in nutrients. In countries where coffee grows naturally, the soil has been enriched by volcanic lava. This gives coffee hobbyists an idea of the content of nutrients needed to develop a healthy soil to grow their own coffee. Basically, peat-enriched soil, with a slightly acidic content is best for growing coffee.
In cooler climates, hobbyists may want to use fertilizer during the major part of the growing season and then, feed fertilizer at regular intervals. In terms of watering, take a hint from the areas of the world where coffee grows. There are regular rain events in mountain areas. This indicates that coffee hobbyists need to insure their coffee plants are watered frequently.
It’s also a good idea to change out the potting soil annually to prevent soil depletion. Coffee plants drink up a high volume of soil nutrients; thus, the need to replace soil annually. The most popular genus of coffee to grow from seed is C. Arabica. C. Arabica is a plant that originated in Kenya, Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast. It’s fairly easy to start indoors with proper care.
Ready to Grow Your Own Coffee?
Coffee is easily grown in containers. Choose a container that is at least 12 to 18 inches in height and about 10 to 12 inches in diameter. Fill the bottom of the container with a light sand base to about one-half inch. To grow coffee from seed, fill the remainder of the container with soil to about one inch below the rim. Add the coffee seeds. Cover lightly with soil. Coffee can also be grown from cuttings. To do this, choose a cutting at least two inches from the base of the plant. Cut the branch or twig cleanly on an angle. Place the cutting into the soil to about two inches deep. Water frequently. Give ample sunlight.
Coffee plants do not require massive sunlight to produce blooms and beans. Avid coffee hobbyists find they can move their coffee plants to the sunny side of a room for morning to noon sunlight. Then, they move it to a less sunny side of the room for the rest of the day.
Tips on Avoiding Infestation
Coffee plants grown indoors often attract insects indoors, just as they door outdoors. Aphids appear on leaves as small white patches. Other insect infestation may be due to mites and mealy bugs. Infestation should be treated as soon as it is discovered. Once the leaves of a coffee plant are damaged, it’s more difficult to restore it to proper growth.
From Blooms to Beans
The avid indoor coffee grower, who has tended his coffee plants with care and attention, is always pleased at the first sight of the sweet, heady, fragrant, waxy, white blooms. This means that the coffee plant is ready to bear the first crop of berries. From these tiny, fragile blooms, the first green berries will appear. These will go from pale green to deep scarlet. Allow these to ripen fully to a near purple hue. Inside each of these ripened berries are two beans. These are dried and roasted and become the source of the world’s most popular beverage.
Experimenting With Different Coffee Species
The most popular coffee species are C. Arabica which provides about 80% of the world’s coffee products. Coffee Canephora is the other popular species; although only 20% of it is widely used. For coffee hobbyists, it may be a good idea to grow both of these species or even one of a number of others. This depends on the space available to grow coffee plants. Also, it’s possible to experiment with the roasting of coffee beans to achieve different flavors.
Indoor Coffee Plants and Harvesting
Growing coffee plants indoors takes a little patience. Harvesting indoors or out has the same two to three year span before the berries appear. This allows a full 24 months for the gardener to grow a healthy, productive plant. Although harvesting beans takes longer, germination is relatively short. There are certain seeds that can germinate in less than two months and produce berries in nine months. This depends on the types of seeds purchased. To hasten germination, soak coffee seeds for 24 hours in water before planting. It’s suggested that seeds be from the most recent crop.
Join the World of Coffee Growers
Coffee plants are a lovely part of any indoor garden, hot house or conservatory. They add a lively green color to the indoors in all seasons of the year. However, indoor temperatures should be carefully monitored to insure they remain warm enough for coffee plants to grow. Generally, the indoor temperatures should be between 60 to 80 degrees F. These temperatures should remain relatively stable. Indoor temperatures that vary frequently from 60 to 80 during the course of the day, can delay growth as the plant tries to adapt to temperature changes. Keep the thermostat at a stable temperature so the plant can become more acclimated and to stabilize growth.
Successful Coffee Plant Growth
Once an indoor coffee grower has succeeded with the first plant, it’s easy to create several other plants using cuttings and seeds from the original plant. This is a cost-effective method of increasing coffee production.
Important Points to Remember
There are several important points to remember when growing coffee indoors. These include:
Dark, rich soil that’s slightly acidic
Moderate amounts of sunlight
Protect against infestation
Fertilize frequently during growing season
Change out potting soil annually
Other points to keep in mind:
Study the various species of coffee plants
Study germination and cutting techniques
Be observant of the proper harvesting time and color of ripened seeds
Experiment with roasting beans for different flavors
Master the best roasting techniques
Coffee Growers around the World
One of the best ways to increase your knowledge of coffee growing is to learn more about how coffee growers in South America, Asia and Central America manage their coffee trees. Indoor coffee hobbyists often find tips and helpful hints to insure their coffee plants are healthy and produce profusely, for example, the International Coffee Association. This was established in 1963 in London, England. The International Coffee Association keeps coffee growers up to date on the latest news on subjects like the Coffee Leaf Rust Outbreak article in their January 2015 issue. This can help indoor coffee growers to learn how to avoid purchasing coffee seeds that may be substandard in quality. Whether you choose coffee seeds or pre-potted coffee plants, one of the most popular places online to purchase them are found here.
There’s Nothing Like Home Grown Coffee
All of the pleasure of growing coffee as an indoor hobby is the first pot of coffee brewed for personal enjoyment. Serious coffee lovers are quite discerning about their coffee. It’s also possible for indoor coffee growers to create their own signature brand to use as gifts for special occasions. Once the berries have ripened, the rest is relatively simple. All the fun of growing your own coffee is in the process of planting, observing growth and seeing the first signs of berries. The same sweet scent of white coffee blooms will reward you with a rich, deep, flavorful homegrown crop of coffee beans.
Coffee Growing as a Hobby
Many avid coffee hobbyists find they can share their signature coffee brand with friends and family. Others grow coffee indoors to sell to local cafes and coffee shops. This is a great marketing option.