Growing coffee outside the tropical climates can be very difficult. However, if you have some space inside your house or you have the right climate outside, you actually can grow coffee trees. You can get some amount of coffee to make your own coffee drink at home.
If you plant a seed of coffee, it will take 9 years for the tree to fully mature and start producing coffee. This duration is very lengthy, but it is totally worth the wait. In this article, I will show you how you can successfully grow coffee in your home.
Starting from the Seed
1. Use ripe coffee cherries when possible
If you are fortunate to find a mature coffee tree, it is advisable to choose the seed from the tree. Plant seeds of freshly-picked coffee cherries and ensure you pick from a tree with a large yield.
- The ripe coffee cherry is usually deep crimson in color
- To prepare a coffee seed for planting, use a wooden spoon or your hands to crush the cherry. After crushing the cherries, rinse the beans that are inside the cherry and leave them to ferment for some days. Once the pulp on the beans falls off, it is ready for planting
- After this, you are to wash the fermented beans in fresh water and any beans that float should be discarded
- You have placed the washed beans on a mesh screen and leave the beans in an open space where it is not directly getting sunlight. Wait for the bean to almost dry up
- Test the beans and see if it is ready; you can test it by gently biting it. The inner part of the beans should be moist while the external part should be dry.
2. Alternatively, you can purchase green seeds
If fresh coffee cherries are not readily available, you can buy fresh green coffee beans. You can prepare the coffee by soaking it in water for 24 hours.
- Coffee beans can germinate if they are planted within 4 months of harvest. After these four months, the chances of the seed germinating is low
3. Sow the Seeds
Get a 60 ml container and fill it with vermiculite or agricultural sand. Water the medium, so it can become moistened. Plant the coffee beans in the container; push it beneath the soil surface.
- If you’re not certain of this method, you can follow this alternative. Rinse 2 burlap coffee sacks in water, then sandwich the seeds between the sacks
4. Keep the seeds moist
Before the seeds start germinating, make sure that the soil or where you are growing the coffee is damp. You can water the seed twice a day; drain the excess water in the container to prevent flooding of the seed.
- It should take a freshly-picked seed 2.5 months to start germinating while an older seed might take about 6 months or more
5. Transfer the germinated seed to a larger container
Once the seed starts germinating and it has grown a type of shoot called goose neck shoot, carefully remove the growing seed from its primary growing medium and transplant it in a much larger container. Prepare a hole that is about 0.5 inches deep in the soil and carefully place the seed in it.
- The growing medium for the coffee should be loamy soil (fertile soil of clay and sand containing humus) and it should have high humus content. To better improve the soil, you can add rotted manure, dried blood, and bone meal (I know this sounds creepy). If you don’t like this type of soil or you can’t get it, then buy a lightweight porous soil
- After planting the coffee, sprinkle some of the soil where you planted the seeds. Do not push down the seed
- If you want to keep the soil moist always, you can add 0.5 inches of mulch grass to the top.
6. Watch over the seeds until it turns into a seedling
Continue to wet the coffee seed every day; you need to keep it moist at all times. Before you transplant the seed, make sure it fully germinates (begins to grow and puts out shoots).
- After about 9 months of planting, the seed should have grown to look like a traditional coffee tree. At this stage, you can transfer the coffee to its permanent location.
1. Use the seedling you grew or a seedling from the nursery
If you don’t want to wait for 9 months period before you transplant your coffee, your other alternative is to buy a grown seedling and move it to its permanent position.
- If you would like to speed up the process, you can decide to buy a taller coffee tree, and ultimately will reduce the time to yield fruit. If you buy a well-developed tree, it might take just 3 to 4 years before it starts yielding fruits.
2. Choose the best possible location outdoor
If you live in a hot area or a place where the humidity is high, you can grow your coffee outside your house. When choosing a permanent location for your coffee, select the part with a porous and deep soil that the roots can easily penetrate through.
- The location should be shaded and protected against cold and winds.
3. Alternatively, transplant the seedlings in a container
Most areas in the US and Canada are too cold to support the growth of coffee; it is best to grow them inside the house.
- Select a room that gets at least 4 to 5 hours of sunlight daily. And a room that is well lighted is okay too
- The temperature range of the room should be between 60 to 80 degrees for the day and during the day it shouldn’t be less than 45 degrees.
- Use a container that is big, deep, and has a large space.
4. Clear the area and improve the soil
Before you transplant the coffee to its location outside the house, clear the areas around it and remove the weeds. For both the indoor and outdoor soil, improve the soil quality by adding some used, coffee grounds.
- Test the nitrogen content of the soil and its pH should be about 6.
5. Plant the seedlings
In the permanent location of the coffee, make a hole that can accommodate the root of the tree. Remove the coffee carefully from its original position and plant it in the permanent one. Make sure the root of the coffee is firm in the soil.
- If you are planting the coffee outside the house, space out the trees with about 3 yard spacing between each of them.
6. Cover the soil
To retain the nutrient and moisture of the soil, you can cover it with a layer of grass mulch.
- If you are planting the coffee outside the house, you can also plant some other cover crops like legumes. They will serve as an extra source of nitrogen for the plant.
1. Water regularly until the tree is established
If you planted the coffee outside your home, it will receive a large amount of rainfall; you might not have to water it separately again.
However, if you planted the coffee inside your home, you will need to water the tree twice a week. You can water the tree fully and the second time performs a half watering.
- If you are performing the full watering, water the soil and allow the excess water to drain off. Soak the soil for the second time and allow the excess water to drain off again. You can add fertilizer to the soil if you have it during the second watering
- If you are performing a half watering, just soak the soil once and allow the excess water to drain off
- During winter, you don’t need to water the coffee too much. Reduce the amount of watering you do to the plant
- Once the tree is grown and starts to produce fruits, you can water it once a week.
2. Apply fertilizers only as needed
The first time you will be applying fertilizer to the coffee should be about 6 weeks after you transplanted it. You can apply the citrus fertilizer to the coffee; continue adding it every 6 weeks.
- After the first 6 months of transplanting the coffee plant, change the schedule of your application of fertilizer. From March to October, apply fertilizer every 2 weeks. Then from November to February, add fertilizer once a week
- When performing full watering, the second stage applies fertilizer to the soil.
3. Prune the tree
It is not compulsory to prune the coffee tree, but if you will like your plant small, then pruning is necessary. Once the tree is 20 inches in height, you can start pruning it. Cut off the growing tips; this will promote the branch to grow by the side.
- Many professionally-grown coffees are pruned thoroughly every 3 years; this will promote new growth from the coffee tree.
Harvesting Coffee Beans
1. Give it time
On average, it takes a coffee tree 9 years from the time the coffee cherry is planted, before it starts producing useful fruits.
- After 2 to 3 years, you will start seeing some green coffee cherries and flowers
- The phase where the flower will grow only lasts for one month. After the phase ends, the flower will turn brown and fall from the coffee tree
- After the next 6 to 8 months, the fruiting stage starts and the cherries on the tree will be reddish. These red cherries can be picked, but if the cherries fall off before turning red, it means it is not yet mature.
2. Pick the berries when ripe
The coffee cherries are grown enough to be picked they turn to crimson color. Twist the cherry to remove the bean inside.
- The cherry has 2 beans in it
- It’s ok to harvest all the fruits at once
3. Dry and roast the beans
If you want to use your cherries to make a coffee drink, you need to remove the beans in it and dry them out.
- Remove the beans from the cherries, soak the beans in water and let it ferment for a couple of days. Wash the fermented beans in freshwater
- Place the fermented beans in the sun for about 7 days. After 7 days, the beans can be cracked
- Remove the outer layer and roast for 10 minutes at 200 degrees.
Growing your own coffee at home is possible and fun. I provided the steps and options above if you would like to grow your coffee at home. Growing your coffee at home means you will have the freshest coffee brew in your town. Its a nice challenge for the gourmet coffee lover.