Have you ever taken a look at the ingredients list on the side of a coffee tin only to find that it contains pretty much everything besides actual coffee? If you haven’t, then be prepared to run into a whole list of words you probably can’t pronounce! Anyone who has given this a try has probably thought about growing their own coffee instead.
How hard is it to grow coffee? Well, it’s actually easier than you might think because coffee is a relatively hardy crop that takes root rather quickly and requires minimal care. The hardest parts about growing coffee are space and patience. Each mature coffee tree grown indoors requires a 25-gallon pot and several feet of space. Each sapling will take 3-5 years to begin fruiting and each tree will produce 1-2 pounds of coffee per year. Beyond that, they require minimal watering and standard indoor grow lighting similar to what you’d use to get any indoor plant like a tomato to fruit.
What Do You Need to Start Growing Coffee?
Assuming you either know someone with a coffee tree or have access to a decent nursery, you’ll want to start with ripe coffee cherries. If you don’t have the time to wait for these to take root, then you’ll want a seedling that’s between 3½-5 inches tall.
In general, the taller the better. You’ll want to transplant these seedlings into a ½-inch hole in preferably loamy soil in a decent-sized flower pot.
When Do you Move Your Coffee Plants Outdoors?
This question is an easy one to answer if you live where it gets cold out: you’ll want to keep your coffee plants inside! Those who are lucky enough to live in a subtropical or tropical climate can move their plants to a somewhat shady location in a humid area once they double in size or outgrow the second set of containers you put them in.
How Long Does it Take for a Coffee Plant to Mature?
Here’s the hard part: you can expect that a young coffee tree won’t produce so-called cherries for around 3-5 years. It’s a long time to wait, but once your plant is mature it should start making enough coffee for you to drink for three weeks each season.
Keep this in mind when you’re trying to figure out how many coffee plants to put in to keep up your supply. If you’re serious about growing a ton of coffee to support your own consumption, then you’ll probably need to make room for more than a few trees.
Can You Grow Coffee Indoors?
You can, but it might take up a lot of space. Pick a windowed room that provides at least five hours or so of direct sunlight a day.
The room in question shouldn’t drop below 60-65°F for ideal growth during the day. Don’t let it drop below 45°F at night.
At the same time, you don’t want your plants to overheat. If they’re starting to wilt, then you’ll want to move them out of the sunlight quickly.
I’ve found that opening a window to let in some natural air helps a lot, but you want to make sure you’ve got a screen on it because bugs that get trapped inside love to cause problems for these plants.
How Big of a Container Does a Coffee Plant Need?
If you’re growing coffee plants in an indoor room or an outside container garden, then you’ll want to make sure that the pot you use holds maybe 20-25 gallons or so. You could possibly reuse some other kind of container.
I’ve tried it in an old unused burn barrel and garbage can from my garage that I used for holding tools instead of actually using the thing for garbage. Some gardeners apparently use old wine barrels, but I don’t usually run into anything that cool!
What Kind of Soil is Best for Growing Coffee?
Okay, so I’m not a chemist, but I found that using a hardware store pH test kit isn’t hard. In general, a soil pH of around 6 is best for coffee.
Organic rotted manure smells every bit as bad as it sounds, but it’s an excellent way to improve your soil if it’s not right for the plant. Higher nitrogen levels in the soil tend to help fertilize the plant, which is good because it takes a while for even fast-growing coffee trees to actually start producing beans.
When is the Best Time to Water a Coffee Plant?
Indoor plants that are safely tucked inside of containers can be soaked completely at any time. Always make sure any excess gets a chance to drain out so your flower pot doesn’t end up sitting in a little puddle, which can make your plant get moldy.
You’ll probably need to give your plant a good soaking two or three times a week. Outdoor plants that don’t get enough rainfall should be watered as the sun is going down so you don’t end up burning the roots.
Should You Prune a Coffee Tree?
Eventually, your tree might start to grow out in every which direction and might end up looking more like a shrub. Pruning, however, isn’t actually necessary.
Some people claim that you should prune a coffee plant real low every few years, but since you’re not likely to be working with huge pro-grade plants you’ll want to avoid doing this. With the relatively small sizes you’re going to encounter on the consumer market, there’s a good chance you could shock your tree and might even kill it.
How Do You Harvest Coffee Beans?
It’s probably annoying to hear this, but you’re going to first want to wait because it can take years before you start to see really good quality beans. Once you do, though, you’ll want to pick off cherries that have a deep red color to them.
Harvesting ripened berries once or twice a week is usually a good plan, but you might have a slightly different schedule depending on the quality of the soil and how fast your plant is producing beans. Leave any undersized ones on the vine to give them a little extra time to grow.