Can You Grow Coffee Hydroponically? (Solved & Explained!)

Are you looking for a great new way to grow your own coffee? Using the hydroponic method comes with a wide range of benefits. We answer the most common questions below plus show you how in action.

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Can You Grow Coffee Hydroponically?

The answer to the question, “Can you grow coffee using the hydroponic method?” is a resounding yes. You’ll need a large 20-30 gallon container per coffee plant, enough soil-less media to support the tree. Then it’ll take 3-5 years for your first harvest. After that, you can expect 1-1.5 pounds of coffee per tree per year.

But you need to be aware that there is a definite learning curve that applies here. There are plenty of potential pitfalls that will need to be kept in mind. But once you have mastered them, the results can be amazing.

How Hard Is It To Do? (Aquaponics Example)

Growing coffee by making use of the hydroponic method is not rocket science. Setup will cost more as you’ll need a large 30-gallon container. Maintaining it is easy. In fact, once you set up the hydroponic watering system you don’t even have to water it. You just need a few hours a week to maintain the water levels and add more nutrient solutions.

It’ll still take 3-5 years till your first harvest. Watch the video below to see how this is set up using aquaponics. You can do the same thing with hydroponics by mixing your own solution.

From my experience with aquaponics, it’s easier to just go the hydroponic route. The solids in fish waste tend to accumulate around the roots which cut them off from their oxygen supply.

First, remove the plant from its soil. Carefully wash its roots with fresh and warm water. Then put it into the container you have chosen to grow it in.

You can also choose to put it in a special growing cup or net cup. In any case, be sure to surround the plant’s roots with plenty of small rocks and pebbles. Clay is best for this purpose. Keep the container filled with water. Results will start to appear in the space of a few weeks.


How To Grow Coffee Trees Using Hydroponics

Watch the video below for a full guide on growing fruit trees hydroponically. The same steps apply to coffee trees (sorry, no youtube videos ready yet for that one!).

This system uses clay pellets as the soulless substrate to hold the plant up. These are the same pellets you would use for aquaculture (just skip the fish waste and clogging problems).

Required Gear

Large Watering Troughs

Little Giant Poly Oval Stock Tank (Black) Heavy Duty Feeding & Watering Trough for Livestock (15 Gallon) (Item No. ST15)
First get some simple large watering troughs that are at least 15 gallons (30 gallon is ideal). They will look big but they are built to last and won’t break due to the water. This is what we used to house both our tilapia and koi for our aquaponic system. No additional supports are needed and they can be used in the sun. Click the image to find these on Amazon.

Clay Pellets

GROW!T GMC40l - 4mm-16mm Clay Pebbles, Brown, (40 Liter Bag) - Made from 100% Natural Clay, Can be used for Drainage, Decoration, Aquaponics, Hydroponics and Other Gardening Essentials
Next get some clay pebbles to hold up the trees. These are the ones we recommend. Click the image to check the price on Amazon.

Hydroponic Delivery System

Hydrofarm RS5GAL8SYS Root Spa 8, 5 Gallon Bucket System, Black
Last you’ll need a delivery system to move water around and keep all the roots aerated and supplied with fresh nutrients (while removing waste products from the roots). Click this image for a simple system designed for 5 gallon buckets. Just use one wand per five gallons. For example, with the 15 gallon watering trough we recommended above you’ll want at least 2 wands in it on both sides.

How Long Till Harvest?

This is the tricky part. It may take quite some time for you to be able to harvest your coffee beans. Several factors apply here that could cause the time to be longer or shorter. It all depends on the conditions you are growing your plants in.

The usual amount of time it takes to harvest your coffee beans using the hydroponic method will be about 3-5 years from seedling to the full tree.

Each year it’ll take about 60-90 days for the beans to mature after they flower. Once you have picked them, you can store them for about 4 days. You may wish to freeze them to make them last even longer.

How Many Pounds Of Coffee Per Tree Per Year?

On average, a coffee tree in good health should be able to produce a harvest of about 1 to 1.5 pounds per year. This means that it would require roughly 4,000 beans to equal a full pound of coffee.

How Can I Increase The Yield?

You can adopt several methods that can help you increase your total yield of coffee from your hydroponic growth station. Your best bet will be to use plant nutrients in wise moderation. You should also place your plants very near a direct source of sunlight so that they can get as much of it as possible.

Should You Start From Seed Or Seedlings?

Your best bet will be to use seeds. They will germinate in a very quick fashion, usually within 1 or 2 weeks. Be sure to sow them at a level of about an inch deep. Keep the temperature at a level of about 65 degrees F or 18 degrees C. If you prefer to work outdoors, the temperature will need to be above 60 F or 16 C.

Will You Need To Transplant It As You Grow Or Should You Start In A Full Setup?

Your best bet will be to grow the coffee plant part of the way in a conventional growing spot. Then, when it has developed a viable root system, you can transplant it into a hydroponic setting. As long as you have enough air circulation and nutrients in your hydroponic solution, the coffee plant should continue to grow and thrive.

How To Build A Hydroponic System To Grow Full Coffee Trees

There are several different hydroponic systems that you can make use of to grow your plants. These include ebb and flow, wick, aeroponics, deep water culture, nutrient film technique, and simple drip systems. You can use any one of these to grow full coffee trees. Further research is needed to select the best one for your needs.

Nutrient Recipe

The best recipe for the hydroponic growth of coffee plants is one that will include generous proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

You will need to follow instructions to get the proportion of these nutrients just right. The average hydroponic nutrient solution will contain 9 percent of each of these elements. The remaining percentage will be made up of water and other nutrients.

General Hydroponics HGC718125 FloraMicro 5-0-1, Use with FloraBloom & FloraGro For A Tailor-Made Nutrient Mix Ideal for Hydroponics, 1-Gallon
There are tons of hydroponic mixes you can get online. This is a basic one we recommend. Make sure if you get another one it’s intended for fruiting plants or vegetables. Some are designed only for growing green leaves. You’ll need to give it everything it needs all the way through fruiting. Click to see price on Amazon.

Should You Do This In A Room Or Greenhouse

You can grow coffee plants hydroponically in a room or greenhouse. A greenhouse will work best since you have the best access to temperature and humidity control. This setting also gives you the best access to natural sunlight. If need be, you can use the hydroponic system in a room, provided you can control all of these settings.

Green hut Grow Tent 96"X48"X78" 600D Mylar Hydroponic Indoor Grow Tent with Observation Window, Removable Floor Tray and Tool Bag for Indoor Plant Growing 8X4
We recommend using a grow tent indoors. This isn’t just to hide your illicit plants! It’s also a great way to use a part of the room without flooding the rest of the room in grow lights. Plus you can add humifiers (if in a dry place like Colorado), vents, temperature control, and other devices to dial in a perfect environment for your coffee plants. Click image to see on Amazon.

What Lights Are Needed? Are There Different Lights For Growing Versus Fruiting?

There are many different types of indoor grow lights that you can use to assist growing and fruiting. These include LED lights, metal halide lights, plasma lights, and many other kinds.

These lights will be necessary to assist the growth process. This is all the more true if you are growing your plants in a room rather than a greenhouse.

Barrina BU 2000 LED Grow Light, Full Spectrum with IR, 4x4FT Coverage, Dimmable, Adjustable Light Panel, 720 LEDs, High PPFD, Plant Grow Light for Indoor Plants Seedling Growing Flowering Fruiting
We recommend a full spectrum LED system designed for fruiting plants. LEDs keep the temperature down which is especially important for indoor growing in grow tents. No fires here please! Click image to check price on Amazon.

What Temperature Should They Be Kept At?

Hydroponically grown coffee beans need to be kept at a constant safe temperature of not under 60 degrees F or 16 degrees C if you grow them outside. If you prefer to grow them indoors using the hydroponic method, the temperature should be kept at a level of not below 65 degrees F or 18 degrees C.

Do I Need To Control Humidity?

You absolutely need to control the level of humidity in your room as well as within the hydroponic system itself. The total level of humidity in the system should not be above the level that is present in normal room temperature conditions. Any more than this can cause serious damage to the health or growth cycle of your coffee plants.

For arid places like Colorado you may need to add a bit to get levels up to at least 50% humidity. See note below about checking first though. Hydroponics naturally gives off a lot of moisture which may get you where you need to go.

Too little (<50%) and the coffee plants won’t be happy. Too much and you’ll get mold problems.

ThermoPro TP50 Digital Hygrometer Indoor Thermometer Room Thermometer and Humidity Gauge with Temperature Humidity Monitor
We recommend you pickup a simple humidity monitor before investing in any special humidifying equipment. Since you’re growing hydroponically and possibly indoors you might already achieve ideal humidity without any extra costs. This meter is cheap and might save you the hassle of running and maintaining a humidifier that you didn’t need. Check first! Click image to see current price on Amazon.