Growing coffee plants at home might sound like a long shot, but actually it is not that ridiculous a notion, provided you don’t really expect to harvest enough coffee beans for your personal needs.
As long as the coffee plant is grown for the novelty impact, it is actually quite an easy, and therapeutic hobby.
A member of the Rubiaceae, Coffea Arabica is just one of the 90 species belonging to the Coffea genus, from which coffee beans are cultivated. The Arabica plant is not only beautiful to look at but it is also considered to be a hardy and easy to grow houseplant.
The evergreen shrub has glossy green leaves and produces white flowers that give off jasmine like scent. The flowers develop along the stems during the summer months, from which the small elongated fruit known as ‘cherries’, emerges.
Initially the cherries are green in color, but over a roughly nine month period they turn red and finally a darker crimson color. At this stage the fruit is ready to be picked. Each cherry houses two coffee beans, and processing 40 grams of cherries yields 70 roasted beans which are sufficient to make a single cup of coffee.
How to Grow a Coffee Plant
To grow your own plant, take 25 unroasted coffee seeds and soak them in roughly one inch of water. In roughly twelve to twenty-four hours, you should see a white colored protrusion extending from fewer than half of the seeds soaked. These live seeds can be planted in pots in an attempt to grow a plant.
It can take about two months for the seeds to germinate in the pots, and the chances of seeds rotting during this time are very high. That is why it is best to plant as many of the live seeds out of the soaked stock as possible, so you get at least one or two viable plants.
Given favorable conditions, a coffee plant grown indoors will take three to five years to reach maturity. Even under the best circumstances, the plant will develop only a limited number of flowers, and may require hand pollination to further develop into fruit (cherries). While the quantity of the crop from one plant may not be sufficient to produce a full pot of coffee, there will be enough to roast for fun and fill the house with aroma from the fresh home grown beans.
Before coffee actually became known as a drink, the pulp that surrounds the (coffee) seed under the skin was eaten alone. In certain areas the unroasted green coffee beans were ground into a powder combined with animal fat and carried by travelers as energy food. The pulp is sweet with a taste somewhat like watermelon and while there isn’t much pulp surrounding the seeds, you can get a taste of the home grown stuff. Perhaps your crop will be better suited to eating out of hand!
A Coffee Plant Requires Certain Conditions to Thrive in Your Home
The ideal time to plant your coffee tree would be in late spring in peat-based soil with good drainage. Coffee plants require ample amounts of water and high humidity, but the water must have a way to drain off. In their natural habitat, these plants grow on tropical mountain sides, so the better the conditions are replicated the greater the chances of producing a thriving plant.
Coffee plants don’t like extended periods of direct sunlight so placing them in front of a window with morning sun or if there is too much sun behind a window with a sheer curtain is best. They prefer temperatures in the range of 15 to 24 degrees Celsius (60 – 75° F). Typically, home grown coffee trees are disease and pest resistant. Pruning and a slightly undersized pot helps to keep the plant at a size that is manageable.
Of course, processing the coffee beans comes next. They will need washing and hand sorting, but from one coffee plant alone, it may be a while before you obtain enough beans to make a decent cup of Joe!