Coffee Plant: What Exactly is a Coffee Bean Plant?

coffee plant

What is a Coffee Bean Plant?

There's nothing quite like the smell of fresh coffee beans in the morning. Especially when the beans are from your very own coffee plants! It may sound too good to be true, but yes, you can grow your very own pot of coffee plants like any other house plants, producing fresh green coffee beans!

Today in this article, we're going to lay out everything you need to know to plant coffee plants and harvest your very own coffee cherries. We will be covering everything from soil, humidity, and proper sunlight to produce your very own native family brew to drink. This article will bring a whole new meaning to 'making a fresh pot of coffee'.

Best Coffee Beans

The Arabica Coffee Plant

Like any other houseplant you may grow indoors, the Coffea arabica species has the typical dark green leaves and can survive off indirect light, making it an easy plant to grow. But, what sets this native Ethiopian plant apart from other common houseplants is what happens when they begin to flower.

Typically when you grow coffee, during the Spring, white flowers begin to appear, along with tiny berries attached to them. This small fruit, also known as the coffee cherry, generally consists of two seeds, which, if you haven't guessed by now, are the very same seeds that get roasted and then used to brew coffee.

When you find coffee plants growing in tropical parts of Africa or other native regions, they can eventually reach the height of a medium sized tree. Generally speaking, though, it is more common to prune the plants before the growth reaches this level in order to make harvesting more manageable.

Patience is a Virtue

Coffee plants are usually best to plant during the Spring, as early into the season as possible. While the flowers also generally bloom during the spring, it will usually take a few years before the plant goes through any flowering and produces any fruits.

Until then, the coffee plant is actually known to grow quite large and wide, being one of the most vigorous indoor houseplants you'll find. Make sure you have space, though, because these guys can mature to over 6 feet tall and wide, with thick branches. So, don't worry if you're not getting your delicious beans right away, and just enjoy the process and the beauty of these majestic little coffee trees.

Besides, see the images for yourself; even without the fruit, they're pretty to look at!

Coffee Plant Care

coffee plant care

Understanding the natural growing conditions and recreating them is the best way to raise a nice and healthy coffee plant. Here are a few tips to consider about your plant's natural habitat that will keep the roots thriving and every leaf nice and full.

Because it's usually from a topical climate at high altitudes, your coffee plant likes a moist, high humidity environment with a cool temperature. Also, make sure you have good drainage and high quality, rich fertilizer to keep the soil slightly acidic and full of nutrients.

Also, it's important to know that coffee beans are generally grown in the shade. This means it is important that your coffee plant does not receive too much sunlight, but instead, indirect light, for the plant's growth to be nice and green. So, bright and near a window is good, but too much direct light can be problematic.

And of course, make sure you can water the plant at least once a week, keep the soil nice and moist, and watch your coffee plant's inches begin to multiply.

Let there be Light

Since the Coffea arabica plant originates from shady areas, it is important for the light to be scattered and never too direct. While full sunlight can work for your coffee plant to grow coffee, if it's too harsh or direct, this produces leaf browning.

The best part about this is that it makes coffee plants a great species for growing indoors and a great, easy new addition to your plant family.

Water, please!

This plant likes to drink! Coffee plants are lovers of water, so if you want them to grow free and tall, get that watering can ready. Generally, you're looking at a watering schedule of once a week for each pot, but it's best to just be conscious of the drainage yourself to produce the best results.

Keep an eye on your plants and make sure the soil is never overflowing with water but damp. If your soil is dried out, get that water pronto! Never let your coffee plant go thirsty, and it will repay you with years of your caffeine fix.

Humidity and Temperature

coffee bean plant

Since they come from tropical climates, coffee plants like a relatively warm environment; the hotter the temperature, the quicker your coffee plant will grow, but too hot, and that can be harmful to the berries themselves. Generally, 70- 80 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended as a daytime temperature for the best, healthiest flowers and their fruit.

At night this temperature can be a little lower, ranging between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. But, be careful here because coffee plants do not like the cold. This also applies to air conditioners as well. Make sure the room is not too breezy, so if you're potting indoors, try to avoid placing the pot too close to a vent. Keeping moderate temperatures is a key to allowing the coffee cherries to ripen at a good, healthy pace.

If you're controlling the humidity of the potting room, keep in mind that the tropical climates where Coffea arabica originates are relatively high in altitude and humidity, often growing on the sides of mountains in Africa.

In order to best compensate for the lack of rain or fog, aim to keep the humidity of the room around fifty percent to allow the branches the proper amount of moisture. You'll know the air is too dry if you notice the leaf edges begin to turn a bright brownish color. If you do notice this, you can mist the air to give those seeds the moisture they need.

Fertilize With Coffee Grounds

Generally, the best fertilizer for a coffee plant is actually coffee grounds, which you can find at home. It's important to keep adding the fertilizer every few weeks while during the growing season, from spring until fall. During the winter, you still do want to fertilize but try cutting back to a monthly basis.

Variety Equals Spice of Life

When it comes to the Coffea genus, there are over hundreds of different coffee plants to choose from. While the majority of coffee beans you find are of the Coffea arabica genus, there are many coffee plant varieties. Here are a few you should probably know about.

Coffea Arabica Nana- We love this particular variety specifically for its size, usually hovering around the 12 inch mark. Because of this, Coffea Arabica Nana is ideal for anyone looking to plant coffee in an indoor environment.

Coffea canephora- If you've ever heard of Robusta coffee, this is simply a more scientific term for the plant where the coffee beans come from. This species originates from Africa, and the name robusta derives from the robust quality of the plant's branches and flowers.

Along with the strength of the plant itself, after flowering, the cherries give coffee beans with a strong, robust flavor as well. Robusta is generally known for coffee that has a much stronger taste in comparison to the berries from arabica plants.

Coffee liberica- This coffee plant gets its name from the place it originates from, Liberica, a region in West Africa. Once mature, the fruits this plant can produce are one of the largest of any coffee species. Also, these coffee beans are known for having a higher caffeine content once roasted than your average berries would.

Fresh Pot of Coffee

fresh coffee plant coffee

As we mentioned earlier, if you let your coffee plant keep growing, it will eventually become a great big green coffee tree. Since these plants grow so much, so quickly, you will want to repot your coffee plant every Spring, with a larger pot size as well.

Since you probably don't want a massive coffee tree, you may want to prune your plants at this time as well, along with the roots, to make for an easier harvesting process. Also, when it comes to the pot, make sure the container has a good amount of space for water drainage.

How to Propagate Coffee Plants

When propagating, it is essential to use seed either from an already thriving plant or to purchase a fresh one. This can also be done from cuttings and another more involved technique called air layers. If you are taking a cutting, the best time to do it would be at the beginning of the summer season. Find a straight root around the 10 inch mark, and remove all leaves except for those in the upper part of the root.

Afterward, plant the root in a soilless potting mix, making sure to keep the pot moist. After some time, you will know roots have formed by gently tugging on the plant. If it is rooted, there should be some slight resistance. Make sure to go easy on it, as you don't want to accidentally remove the roots.

Harvesting Time

As we've mentioned, even though your coffee plant will grow nice and big rather quickly, in order for it to flower and for you to harvest those sweet coffee cherries, you will need to wait for at least three to five years. In the meantime, these beautiful green plants are beautiful images for you to brighten up your space.

Once the coffee cherry is a dark reddish color and soft to touch, you can actually just pick them right off the plant. Afterward, you will need to separate the beans from the fruit by pulping the coffee cherries in a bowl of water. Now that you have your beans separated, it's almost time to get them roasted. Lay them out on wire mesh and let them dry until the skins of the beans are ready to peel off.

After about a month, your coffee beans are ready to be ground! You may notice, coffee has an even greater taste when you grow it yourself.

Pest Care

There is a whole slew of pests that will be eager to get at your coffee plant, including mites, aphids, along with others. If you notice webs or white clumpy residue, this is not a good sign, but you need not panic. Act right away, and spray your plant with a pesticide, the least toxic as possible. If this doesn't work, you may need to progress to more chemical heavy alternatives.

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees.

coffee plant tree

As they say, perhaps money doesn't grow on trees, but at least coffee does! Imagine a world where you could go to your own personal supply of coffee every morning, which continued to grow more and more by the day. Well, you need not imagine that anymore, because it is all already possible!

Grab your soil, your seeds, and your gardening gloves, and let's make ourselves a fresh pot of coffee.

Best Coffee Beans
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Parker Russell is a coffee professional and the founder of Black Ink Coffee. As an expert in the field of coffee roasting, cupping (professional Q-Grader) and brewing, Parker has established Black Ink as brand that fuels the grind of dreamers.