The coffee tree cannot prosper in places where the temperatures are very cold or very hot. The coffee plant requires specific conditions to grow properly, and cannot thrive in places with very cold or very hot temperatures. The best conditions are typically found in the tropics and can vary greatly between continents and even countries and their regions.
The living conditions in the “coffee belt” are characterized by, among others:
- moderate temperatures all year round and no frost
- regular rainfall patterns (dry and wet seasons)
The coffee tree grows best in a temperate, humid, and warm climate, where the growing season lasts all year.
Types of Coffee Plants
There are a total of 124 different species of coffee, however the two that are most commonly consumed are Arabica and Robusta.
Coffea arabica is the most popular type of coffee. It is also the highest quality. Coffee beans contain a compound called coffee oil, which is used to flavor most types of coffee. Coffee oil is also used to flavor desserts and other drinks. There is a good chance that the classic roast coffee in your pantry is Arabica coffee.
The coffee plant Coffea arabica originated in Ethiopia, but for more than 1000 years it has been grown extensively in Arabia. The plant can grow up to 20 feet tall, but can be kept around 6 feet for indoor use. This plant is self-pollinating and produces large, elliptical-shaped seeds.
Coffea canephora var. Robusta is like the off-brand version of Arabica. It’s much cheaper but much more bitter. This type of plant is much easier to grow, so it is grown for economic reasons. The tree that naturally produces coffee grows up to 40 feet tall and prefers warmer temperatures than the Arabica coffee plant. The small, round seeds require cross-fertilization to grow.
Arabica coffee beans have less caffeine than Robusta coffee beans. Caffeine evolved as a defense mechanism against insects, so the plant is very pest-resistant. This variety of coffee bean is less popular because it tastes bitter due to the caffeine content. This sentence is discussing the use of coffee beans that have been roasted. Roasted coffee beans are often used in instant coffee, espresso, or as a filler in blends.
Strain, Varietal, Botanical Variety
Each coffee tree species has dozens or even hundreds of different varietals. Each varietal brings significant flavor differences into the cup. Before you can enjoy coffee beans as a pour-over coffee or espresso, they must first produce fruit. The question is how to match a given varietal to the growing conditions. There is no one type of crop that can be grown in any location around the world. In most cases, a few or a dozen different types of plants are used in a specific area for the best results. What is the determining factor for why one varietal of plant will thrive in one location but not in another?
A term familiar to wine lovers, “terroir” has a similar meaning when it comes to coffee. Several factors work together to determine the final character of a product. The terroir is affected, among others, by:
- crop elevation
- temperature in the annual and daily cycle
- exposure to UV radiation
- precipitation characteristics
- soil type and biodiversity
- the occurrence of strong winds
- the level of agriculture – the knowledge and skills of the producer
In addition to these elements, the risks associated with the occurrence of pests and diseases (mainly fungi) are also important.
The producer should select a varietal that is appropriate for the given growing conditions by analyzing all of the terroir elements. In most cases, multiple different types of grapes are grown in a single location in order to be prepared for if one of them is attacked by a new disease or other issues. This decreases the chance of destroying the entire crop and provides consumers with more variety in terms of taste.
Coffee Tree Life Cycle
Now that we know the basic information about the taxonomy of the coffee tree, we can take a look at the practical side of growing this plant. Where does it start?
A cherry tree grows from a cherry pit, which is the seed of the cherry fruit. Nurseries are places where seedlings are grown in gentle conditions. These are places located on plantations or in their vicinity, where the tree grows for about 12 months to a height of about 40 cm and becomes strong enough to be planted in its final location on the farm.
From that moment on, the coffee tree will take 4 years to grow fruit. This entire time, it must be consistently fertilized and taken care of. Many seedlings will not survive the harsh winter and will have to be replaced with new ones in the spring. The process then starts all over again.
The tree produces its first fruits 4-5 years after being planted. Normally there are not enough to enable mass production for commercial purposes. Although it is then possible to find out the quality potential of the planted area, it is not possible to do so beforehand.
After planting a tree, it will take around seven years until the tree gives its first commercial yield. Once the tree reaches its full yield capacity, it can maintain that capacity for approximately 40 years. While their productivity may decline, they are still able to produce a yield. There are known examples of high-quality harvests from shrubs that are over 60 years old.
The life cycle of a plant may be determined by its age, but much more often it is concluded by a disease or a cataclysm.
The best things usually require some effort, and coffee is no different. The coffee planting process is very detailed, but the end result is a beautiful plant.
When To Plant
The coffee plants grow from April to August. We recommend planting seedlings a little bit before this season so that they have time to adjust.
If you want to grow your own coffee plant, it can be difficult to find seedlings or seeds in stores, so you may need to order them online. Don’t wait until the last minute to start shopping for your garden.
Where To Plant
If you live in the tropics or in zones 10-11, you can plant this tree outside. To grow your plants, start by planting the seeds indoors. Once the seedlings have strong roots, you can transplant them to their outdoor home. Plant starts can go directly into the ground.
Be mindful that these shrubs are large and take up a significant amount of space vertically. Space the plants at least 3 feet apart from one another and from any other nearby plants. Look for an area that is in part shade for a majority of the day, especially during the afternoon.
Indoor plants typically grow to be 4 to 6 feet tall, so you will need to make some extra space for them. They’ll love sunrooms but also thrive in sunny windows. In the summer, you can take your plant outside for some fresh air – as long as it’s in the shade.
How To Plant
If you purchase coffee plant seedlings, they may come with multiple seedlings in one container. The soil will need to be soaked and the plants will need to be divided carefully. After you have separated them, put each one in its own container or space in the garden. This soil is ideal for planting. it is fertile and well draining. To help your seedlings get established, keep the soil moist.
Fertilize the plant three or four times a year during the first few years of its life. Each spring, size up the pot if needed. Make sure the container you use is proportional to the size of the tree, since too much unused space will just allow water to pool and potentially kill the roots. As a general rule, your new coffee plant will begin flowering 3-5 years after you’ve purchased it.
How To Care For Coffee Plant
The conditions the coffee plant is grown in have a big impact on its taste. This means that if you want the best quality beans and a healthy tree, you need to take good care of your coffee plant.
Sun and Temperature
When outdoors, coffee plants need partial shade. They cannot take direct sunlight and heat, which can scorch the leaves. Indoor plants should be placed near a sunny window. South-facing windows are best since they capture the most sunlight.
Tropical plants need warm temperatures, but not hot temperatures. 60-80°F is ideal. If the temperature gets below 55 degrees, the leaves might fall off, and frost can kill the plant. You should plant coffee trees on the south side of a wall where they will be protected from the cold winds.
Water and Humidity
To keep the soil moist, water it whenever it starts to dry out. The amount of water your lawn needs varies depending on where you live. Typically, you’ll need to water it twice a week. To encourage blooming in the spring, water your plants less in the winter.
Avoid overwatering or letting the roots stand in water. If the plant is wilting, it needs more water. It will recover quickly if it is watered. You shouldn’t depend on this method, because it will cause extra stress to the plant.
High humidity is absolutely necessary for this tropical tree. This is not a problem in tropical or coastal areas. If yours is an indoor plant, don’t put it near heating vents, as the dry air will damage it. To monitor humidity levels accurately, use a hygrometer.
The easiest way to boost the humidity in a dry room is to use a tray full of pebbles. Fill a tray or saucer with rocks that is larger than the base of the pot. Set the pot on the burner, and fill the tray with water just below the rock level. The water will evaporate and create a humid environment around the plant. Make sure the water doesn’t go above the rocks, or else the soil will absorb it.
Coffee plants need a lot of food, so they grow best in soils that are rich and full of nutrients. Before planting, you can improve the quality of the soil by adding organic compost. You also need to make sure that the fabric does not absorb water. If the potting mix being used is not well-draining, add some sand or perlite to make it so. Adding mulch can help to keep weeds down and the soil moist.
The soil should be slightly acidic, with a pH ranging from 4-7 (6-6.5 ideally). Slightly raising the acidity can be done by adding sulfur or peat moss. To make sure you are properly amending your soil, always check the pH levels before making any changes. You can easily do this at home with a soil testing kit.
Fertilize your coffee plant a few times during the growing season of spring and summer. This tree needs a fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen. Fertilizers made from roses and citrus fruits are great for maintaining your coffee plant’s health. If you have coffee grounds, you can fertilize with them because they contain the nutrients that the tree needs.
Coffee is hungry for micronutrients, too. Each of these elements play an important role in plant development. Choose a fertilizer that contains at least small amounts of NPK and additional nutrients.
Coffee plants are typically pruned to 6 feet tall or less for easy harvesting. However, it takes a lot of work to keep the trees that small. You should prune your tree at least once a year, and more often if the tree is growing indoors.
The best time to prune coffee plants is at the beginning of spring so that the plant is ready for the growing season. This shrub is pretty tough, so feel free to cut back a lot (but no more than half).
Secondary and tertiary branches should be pruned, while primary branches should be left untouched. Since this is a shrub, it’s pretty moldable. Cut the lower branches to allow the tree to grow taller. Trimming the top of the bush will make it grow fuller at the bottom.
The most common way to grow coffee is from seed. You’ll need to get the right type of seed and figure out the best way to germinate it. You will need to find some coffee beans that are green and fresh (not roasted). The coffee beans need to be removed from the coffee fruit and rinsed. Collect some acorns from a friend’s tree or buy acorn seeds online. A number of varieties are available from retail sellers. Ask for seeds that are as fresh as possible. The older the seed is, the less likely it is to germinate.
Soak your seeds in water for 24 hours. After that, put them in a location where they will receive direct sunlight for 12 to 16 hours. Put the seeds in damp sand or vermiculite, then put them in a location where they will get 12 to 16 hours of direct sunlight. Keep the seeds here until they germinate. When the baby plants are poking out, carefully remove the germinated seeds and plant them a centimeter deep in fertile, well-draining soil (with the flat side down). Vigilantly keep it moist until seedlings appear.
Stem cuttings are a great way to grow coffee plants if you don’t like seeds. The process is pretty standard. Pick a healthy, mature branch that has leaves but no fruit or blooms. Cut four to five inches from the tip of the knife at a diagonal angle.
Harvesting and Storing Coffee Berries
You will not get a large harvest from your coffee plant if it is growing indoors. How well your plant does depends on how well you take care of it and how mature it is. You’ll need more than one plant to get enough beans for a whole pot of coffee. If you want to roast your own coffee beans, you should buy enough to make a dessert, such as chocolate-covered espresso beans.
Dark red cherries are ripe and ready to eat. This means that you will have to pick them by hand, as they don’t simply fall off the tree. Pick berries only from a plant that is not diseased, and start processing them immediately so the fruit does not go bad.
Roasting the seeds is a long but rewarding process. The outside of the bean is coated with a soft tissue called parenchyma. To remove it, you’ll have to ferment the beans. This is done by the microorganisms using their enzymes to break down the chemical structure of the organism. To make this dish, soak the bean in water for 12-48 hours and the enzymes will do the rest. The slimy texture of the parenchyma means you should soak the seeds until they feel rough. Discard any seeds that float in the water.