Your 7 Step Guide to Growing Coffee at Home
Although from a tropical origin, coffee plants can be grown at home with some patience and the right environment. The green beans harvested will have a longer shelf-life than the store bought version, and allow you to roast and drink on demand. Here is my seven step guide to cultivating your very own magic green beans…
Step 1: Choosing the right species
Normal drinking coffee is usually made from beans harvested from the two most common coffee species; Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta. Overall Coffea arabica is the most suitable type for at-home cultivation with a smaller, bush like stature and the ability to self-fertilise.
Step 2: Selecting high yield beans
Coffee beans have a low success rate of germination and therefore need to be sourced as fresh as is possible. With the unlikely chance of finding a coffee plantation in the UK, try sourcing green beans that are less than 2 months from their harvest for the best chance of sprouting.
Step 3: Pre-germinate sorting
Place a large number of your sourced beans in a dish at least 2 inches deep, arranged in a single layer. Cover with an inch of water and leave for 12-24 hours. Closely inspect for the small number that have developed a white bump on one end. These are the beans that can be used for germination.
Step 4: Germinate
Fill a very deep pot with a light-weight and porous soil of high humus content. Plant the bean so that it is covered completely with ½ inch of soil. Water the soil until it is very damp but not soggy, and keep the soil constantly moist but well drained. Cover with cling film and place in a warm area that will receive bright, but not direct, light for most of the day.
Overall, it can take up to 2 months for a seedling to appear. Once this happens, leave for another month to allow the plant to become well established.
Step 5: Replanting
After germination the plant should either be left alone or carefully removed and planted in a porous soil with a low pH and high nitrogen content. Coarse sand or basalt gravel dust can be added to create this perfect soil medium, as well as manure.
Step 6: Be patient
Outside of the Tropic belt, it can take up to 3-5 years for the plant to begin fruiting due to regular changes in the surrounding environment. To give your plant the best chance of maturing, place somewhere warm (average 21˚C), under constant artificial light and prevent exposure to frost. Water the plant twice a week so that the soil is kept moist as before; nourish once with just water and the second time with water and a small amount of fertilizer such as that used for orchid growing. Once the fruit has matured to a soft bright red, you can harvest, pulp, ferment and dry your green coffee beans ready for roasting and drinking.
Step 7: Still waiting for that perfect bean?
After making that honest attempt to grow your own, you can now thoroughly appreciate all the effort gone into making that perfect cup of coffee. If you still struggle to get your plant fruiting to perfection, pop down to your local coffee brewer and save the tricky bean production and preparation to the experts!
Got any helpful tips from your experiences of coffee growing? Leave your comments below…