Coffee Plant Care for Beginners: Tips, Facts, & More

A Complete Coffee Plant Guide: Everything Beginners Need to Know to Grow Coffee Beans

Wondering how to grow a coffee plant? Or, maybe you are just searching for some cool coffee plant facts. Either way, you have arrived at the right place! Here, we love coffee. So, we’ve created a helpful guide to tell you all about the beautiful little plant it comes from! Read on for coffee plant care tips, coffee plant life cycle information, coffee cherry growth timelines, and much more! 

What is a Coffee Plant?

Coffea is a genus of flowering plants. This plant belongs to the family Rubiaceae. Coffee species are usually shrubs or small trees and come in many varieties. These plants are native to Africa and other tropical climates. As woody evergreens. They can grow anywhere from 12 inches to 10 meters tall. In the wild, they are quite large whereas dwarf ‘Nana’ arabica plants only reach about one foot in height. 

Many of the smaller types of coffee plants make favored, low-maintenance, indoor house plants. However, it is unlikely that these small, house plant varietals will produce coffee beans (cherries). With that being said, there are many types of coffee plants that can grow in your backyard. These large outdoor plants may produce coffee beans for you if tended properly! 

Caring for a Coffee Plant at a Glance

Fruit-bearing coffee plants can grow nicely in the proper climate conditions. Or, they can make a wonderful addition to your at-home atrium or office. These indoor coffee plants have large, deep green leaves that last year-round and can be attractive as a decorative addition. 

If you live in an area where it doesn’t freeze regularly in the winter, you may choose to grow multiple, full-size coffee plants outside. When many coffee plants are grown in the right outdoor climates, they can eventually produce coffee beans each year. 

All types of coffee plants tend to prefer dappled sunlight and do not thrive in direct sun. They require a rich, Peat-based potting soil mix with excellent drainage. Coffee plants also love water, so they will require regular watering. The optimal temperature range for coffee plants to grow is between 70 and 80 degrees during the day and 65 to 70 degrees at night. 

Discovery, Lifecycle, and Cultivation of Coffee Plants

Growing your own coffee plant can be an incredibly rewarding experience. It's fascinating to note that coffee plants can be found near human populations stretching all the way back to ancient times in the African Great Rift Valley. 

What Are Coffee Beans?

Coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee cherry. Coffee cherries are the red fruit of the coffee plant. The beans/seeds of the coffee fruit take about nine months to grow from start to finish. When the beans are removed from the coffee fruit, they are cleaned, dried, and roasted. Then, they can be ground into the coffee that we all love to drink. 

Growing Coffee Flowers, Cherries, and Beans

Coffee cherries tend to start developing in the rainy season on plants that are at least two years old. It is at this time that attractive Jasmine-like flowers begin to mature on coffee trees, shrubs, or plants. If a blossom completely develops, it falls off and a coffee fruit will grow in its place on the stem. From the day that the flowers fall off, the gestation of a coffee cherry takes about nine months. After nine months, the cherry ripens and will drop to the ground with a seed inside. This seed is what we know as a coffee bean! 

Can an At-Home Coffee Plant Produce Coffee Beans? 

It all depends. In places like Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and many other tropical climates, coffee plants are grown in the thousands on plantations as an export crop. From these plantation-tended plants come the coffee beans that people all over the world consume. But can the coffee plant in your sunroom grow coffee beans just like a coffee plantation Costa Rica farm? Maybe and maybe not, many factors must be considered.

The large coffee plants that are grown in Costa Rica, a Hawaiian coffee plantation Kauai location, or anywhere else in the world where coffee farming occurs, are indeed the same sorts of coffee plants that you can grow at home. However, the exact type of coffee plant you grow in your household will probably be a slightly different varietal or subspecies. So, cherries may or may not grow. It will depend on things like the age of your plant, the type of coffee plant you have, its soil conditions, and overall care. 

Common Indoor and Outdoor Types of Home and Home Grown Coffee Plants 

Coffee plants are perennials and can live anywhere from 3 to 100 years! However, as a general rule of thumb, your coffee plant will probably live between 7 and 20 years depending on its care and conditions. 

With proper pruning and fertilization, your indoor coffee plant can grow cherries and may even increase its output depending on its age and type. People who own coffee plants at home most likely have a Coffea Arabica ‘Nana’ plant, a Coffea canephora, or a Coffea liberica plant. 

Coffea Arabica - Large and ‘Nana’ Coffee Plant (Dwarf Houseplant)

This is a popular and fragrant plant if flowers grow. It comes in a regular size and a dwarf variety of coffee shrub that only grows to about 12 inches tall. The Nana or dwarf an ideal coffee plant to grow indoors and has a lovely aesthetic. Not all dwarf plants produce cherries, flowers, and coffee beans. However, some do!

The larger version of this Arabica plant is great for growing outside too, as long as you live somewhere with a humid, frost-free climate like Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, etc. Otherwise, you will need a sunroom or an outdoor greenhouse with some kind of climate/humidity/temperature control features. 

Coffea Canephora 

You may also have a Coffea canephora plant type. This hardy coffee plant produces Robusta coffee beans and comes from sub-Saharan Africa. These plants do well indoors or outdoors if you live somewhere warm and dry. 

Coffea Liberica 

Or, you could have a Coffea liberica plant. This variety is native to central and western Africa. It was first discovered near Liberia and produces large coffee fruits with lots of caffeine content. 

The Life Cycle and Lifespan of the Coffea Plant

As a perennial, you can expect this plant to produce coffee cherries annually under the right conditions. Depending on your coffee plant species, it could live 2, 5, 10, or even 100 years. Coffee shrubs and trees that are grown outdoors tend to have the longest lifespans. Houseplant versions can have long lives as well, however, with proper care.  

Can You Grow and Harvest Coffee Beans at Home? 

In theory, yes. You would need patience, the right environment, some plant husbandry skills, and the right types of coffee plants, though. Plantation coffee plants are not the same as dwarf house plant varietals. 

On a plantation, large outdoor coffee plants are planted in groves. Here, numerous plants are seasoned through the years to produce fruit during specific times starting in the rainy seasons. There are two coffee beans in every coffee cherry. A large outdoor coffee plant can produce anywhere from 200 to 2000 cherries, over a span of nine months, per year. 

With that said, to get about a pound of coffee a year from your coffee plants at home, you’d need a very productive and large coffee plant specimen or a few plants cared for outside. Therefore, you will likely need to grow multiple coffee plants if you want to actually yield enough coffee to brew someday. In the right outdoor environments, you could theoretically grow many coffee plants. 

Where to Grow Coffee Trees Outside in the US? 

Warm, tropical climates like Florida, Hawaii, southern Georgia, and southern California would be ideal for planting backyard coffee trees! You could also grow coffee trees in southern Arizona, Texas, or Nevada provided you could keep your outdoor coffee shrubs or trees well watered. 

How to Grow a Coffee Plant at Home? 

Coffee plants will need lots of tender loving care to get to the right height and health levels if you wish them to produce coffee. You can buy coffee plant seedlings at stores like Home Depot, Whole Foods, Lowe's, and Menards. These little seedlings often come in groups of 2 to 8 and are about 4 inches tall. 

Separate and Repot Your Seedlings

The first thing you will do if you want to grow each coffee plant is separate the seedlings. Leave the coffee seedlings in a bowl of lukewarm water overnight. The next day when the soil and roots are fully saturated, separate each plant into its own 4-inch pot. If you plan to plant your coffee seedlings outside, follow your usual seedling transport processes. 

Keep Them in Indirect Sunlight and Water Each Plant Well with Good Drainage

Keep your coffee plant seedlings in indirect sunlight. These plants tend to grow in shady areas beneath other plants. If you will be keeping your coffee plant indoors, place it in indirect sunlight near a window. You will want to keep your coffee plant’s soil moist, but also offer plenty of drainage for the roots. 

Care and Temperature Suggestions 

When caring for a coffee plant indoors, be sure to use good, Peat-based soil and keep your home’s temperature between 67-80 degrees. Once your coffee plant is big enough, you can put it in a larger pot. At around eight inches tall, your seedlings will need to be repotted. You will re-pot your seedlings once again after they reach 24 inches tall. At this time, some people transfer their coffee plants Outdoors. 

 

Caring for Coffee Plant FAQS

Now, let's go over some frequently asked questions about coffee plants grown at home indoors or in your backyard. 

• What is the best coffee to plant?

It will all depend on the ultimate results you want to achieve. If you simply want an attractive house plant, a dwarf coffee plant is a great choice. These lush, green plants can look great in your office, living room, or anywhere else where they won't be overexposed to sunlight. 

Or, if you live somewhere tropical and want to grow coffee in the backyard as a hobby or annual crop, you should choose an Arabica coffee plant. There's a reason that coffee Arabica species are a mainstay in the coffee industry. These reliable coffee plants produce numerous cherries with extremely aromatic flavor profiles and delicious coffee bean nuances! 

Then again, if you want to try to grow coffee outside and live in a dry climate, a drought-resistant coffee plant in the Robusta category would probably be a good choice. Although the fruit of the Robusta coffee plant isn't as abundant and has slightly bitter bean flavors, this coffee plant species is known for being hardy. 

• Where to find a coffee plant for sale?

You can find coffee plants for sale just about anywhere. It’s finding the exact varieties you want that can be tricky. Sometimes, coffee plants are sold at Target, Walmart, The Plant Shack, Home Depot, Costco, Lowe's, Menards, and Boomgars. You can also buy California Tropicals and American Arabica coffee plants online. Coffee plants can also be purchased as seeds and planted in the ground. These “coffee seeds” are literally fertile, unroasted coffee beans and can be started like any other seedling.

• What are some coffee plant care tips?

  • Coffee plants love water and require ample watering and sufficient drainage. 
  • They need to stay moist but can never get waterlogged, as this leads to root rot and death. 
  • Their soil pH is acidic. 
  • They also require nutrient-rich peat-based soil. 
  • Coffee plants are perennials and their flowers are white. 
  • Coffee cherries are red and contain seeds, which are the “coffee beans”. 

For coffee plant indoor care, be sure to place your plant in indirect sunlight, keep it well watered, and never over-water and drown it. The water should absorb into the soil fully and then drain easily. For outdoor coffee plants that you want to use to grow coffee beans at home, you will need to live in the right climate or have a greenhouse to prevent your coffee plants from freezing. These plants prefer temperatures of 65-80 degrees year-round. 

• Are there any main coffee plant houseplant care differences? 

Indoor “houseplant” coffee plants aren’t terribly difficult to take care of. You care for them similarly to how you would care for any other water-loving perennial plant grown inside. Most houseplant coffee plant versions are “minis” of their larger, outdoor relatives. As such, they are designed to look nice and accentuate your home without requiring tons of maintenance. 

• Are coffee plants toxic to dogs? 

Coffee trees, plants, and shrubs have saponins in their stems, bark, bark, and foliage. So, don’t let your pets eat these parts. Also, you should never eat these parts either. Although the fruit of the coffee tree and its seeds/beans are not poisonous, the stems/bark and leaves can cause vomiting. Don't let your dog chew on your coffee plants and don't let your cat eat the leaves or they could get sick.  

The Easiest Way to Get Coffee Beans at Home

Gardening and cultivating coffee plants is a great hobby and can be incredibly rewarding. However, you don’t have to wait years for fresh coffee at home. If you want fresh, organic coffee beans at home without having to go to the store or grow an entire coffee tree in your backyard, we highly recommend ordering from OneGreatCoffee.Com. This company sources coffee beans from small, locally operated coffee plantations around the world. 

These plantations are run by Fair Trade coffee farmers. So, every time you purchase aromatic Arabica coffee from the One Great Coffee gourmet selection, you are supporting local farmers and their communities. 

In addition to this, these coffee beans are shipped directly from the plantations, where they are then divided into small batches and roasted fresh on the same day they get shipped to you. This creates the most delicious flavors possible and yields a far fresher experience than anything you would find at your local grocery store. 

So, if you want freshly roasted small-batch coffee beans from around the world shipped directly to you, we recommend clicking this link to browse the vast Gourmet Coffee Selection of Organic, Single-origin, and Fair Trade coffee at OGC. You can even order unique flavored coffee beans by clicking this link! OGC is the ideal family-operated coffee retailer for fresh coffee beans, at home, on demand. 


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