Coffee Plant Care 101: Drinking Coffee Fresh from Your Garden
Are you the kind of person who starts the day with a cup of hot coffee? Whether it is espresso, Americano, latte, or cappuccino, you can make your organic coffee fresh from your garden if you know all about coffee plant care. Below is what you are looking for.
1. The Origin of Coffee Bean Plant
Before we specifically bring up about proper coffee plant care, let us discuss the origin of a coffee bean plant. The plant species is called Coffea and is a part of flowering plant genus of Rubiaceae. The small trees or bushes originally came from tropical countries, like Southeast Asia, South America, the Caribbean, and southern Africa.
Even though Coffea plant is divided into more than 120 species, the most widely known ones are Coffea arabica (more familiar with Arabica coffee) and Coffea canephora (more well known as Robusta coffee). Arabica contributes 60-80% to the total coffee production in the world while Robusta contributes 20-40%.
Having been one the most well-known and precious commodity produce in the world, coffee beans—the seeds of Coffea plant—are brewed and drunk by millions of people at least twice a day.
2. Get to Know the Growing Habit
If you want to know about how to grow coffee, first, you need to know about the growing habit of a coffee bean plant.
A coffee tree generally grows up to 5m on average. A coffee bean plant blooming twice a year (summer and spring, or dry season in tropical countries) with small white jasmine-like flowers and large shiny dark green leaves, it does not only appear lovely, but it is also sweet-scented. However, you will have to wait for 2-3 years of cultivation to witness this beauty.
When the growing coffee tree reaches harvest time, small green fruits appear from the shrubs of the tree. After reaching ripeness, coffee fruits—known as “cherries”—turn red (or sometimes purple) and are actually can be eaten. Each of the ripe fruits contains a couple of seeds—the ones that are called “coffee beans” although they are not real beans. Meanwhile, smaller and rounder coffee beans are called “peaberries.”
3. How to Grow Coffee
Speaking of how to grow coffee, there are two methods of growing coffee brought up here, i.e., growing coffee from the seeds and in a pot. Below are the descriptions of the methods.
Growing coffee from the seeds
Since coffee bean plant is such a rare plant—especially Arabica, you may find it difficult to find a potted coffee bean plant in the market. Therefore, it is best to grow the plant from scratch—meaning from the seeds.
To properly germinate green coffee seeds (which you can shop online for), you need rather acidic and damp soil at a temperature of 20°C. After the germination—that takes 1-6 months, keep the seedling in the separated shade so that it can get enough sunlight in the morning.
How to grow a coffee bean plant in a pot
Growing coffee indoors means you need a pot. You had better use either a plastic or clay pot to sow your coffee seeds in, as they are light and give the plant good drainage. Keep the soil in the pot moist and the surrounding of the pot humid—with a temperature between 12-25°C. Place the pot near a window of your house, so that your coffee bean plant can get exposed to enough sunlight—not too much.
4. Coffee Plant Care 101
Now, we have come to the main idea of this article, namely coffee plant care. There are three sectors that you need to focus on when we talk about coffee bean plant care—humidity, fertilization, and pruning (trimming the coffee plant shrubs). The following is how to care for a coffee plant.
When it comes to growing coffee indoors, it needs specific humidity. The temperature should be around 18°C in the room where you place your coffee bean plant. To stabilize the humidity, you can put your potted coffee bean plant on a tray of pebbles. You can also try other ways, such as humidifying and misting system (spraying with water droplets).
Either in coffee robusta or coffee arabica plant care, fertilization also plays a good role in growing coffee indoors. The growing season starts in April and ends in August. After two months of cultivation, you may add about 100g of citrus fertilizer (the one that you use to fertilize citrus plants) to your coffee seedlings. Do this monthly to complete your coffee tree care.
However, the citrus fertilizer will also make your coffee bean plant lack iron. Therefore, you should also add some iron fertilizer at least once every year.
Your coffee plant care will be complete with pruning or shrub trimming. This treatment should be done when your coffee bean plant gets as tall as 70cm. You may trim the tip of the growing coffee plant to make it limit its height and grow lateral branches. The cut does not need to be neat; you can do messy pruning.
5. How to Harvest Coffee Bean Plants
As mention previously, when it comes to harvesting time, your coffee bean plant will take 2-3 years of cultivation until the flowers bloom and the fruits ripen. The green fruits—called “cherries”—then turn red or purple when reaching ripeness and will appear in the plant for over several months.
Nevertheless, only a coffee bean is found in every 5-10% of total fruits. When left in the tree, these “cherries” will dry up instead of being spoiled.
When your coffee bean plant is ready to be harvested, there are 2 harvesting methods that you can apply so that you can get quality coffee beans. They are as follows.
With this method, every single ripe fruit is picked from the shrubs by man hands. In a large scale, this method takes very long time and costs a fortune, but certainly results in excellent quality coffee beans. If you harvest your coffee beans only for your use, this method is absolutely the best.
You will probably not need this method as factories generally use it. With this method, a tool or machine shakes the coffee tree branches to collect all the ripe fruits. Despite the fast process it takes, the mechanical method has some drawbacks, such as its contribution to the crop’s damage and vulnerability of diseases.
After processing all the coffee beans, all you have to do is roast them on a coffee roaster in about 11-15 minutes or roast them in a pan with medium heat for 25-30 minutes until they get browned. Afterward, you may grind them yourself in a simple coffee grinder. Now, you are ready to have a cup of hot, homemade coffee. Lovely!