It’s hard to beat the pleasure of sipping a freshly brewed cup of coffee, especially when you’re well aware that the beans came from your very own coffee plant! Intrigued? Also, here is a detailed article on how to care for Coffee Plant
Coffee plants (Coffea arabica) make for engaging, rewarding houseplants that can, with time and care, yield fruit and offer the unforgettable experience of coffee cultivation from the comfort of your home. Also see: How to propagate Coffee Plant.
Coffee Plant Overview
|6 to 15 feet (houseplants usually around 3 to 6 feet)
|Bright, indirect sunlight
|Well-draining, peat-based potting mix
|6.0 to 6.5
|After 3 to 4 years
For more information see the articles
The coffee plant, Coffea arabica, is an evergreen shrub native to the highlands of Ethiopia and South Sudan. In its natural habitat, it thrives under the protective canopy of the forest, thus preferring indirect sunlight when grown as a houseplant. It can reach heights of up to 15 feet, but it’s often pruned to a more manageable size in indoor settings, typically 3 to 6 feet.
The coffee plant is beloved for its glossy, dark green leaves that create a lush, tropical atmosphere. But it’s not only the leaves that are alluring. It produces beautiful, fragrant white flowers that bloom in the spring, resembling the blossom of jasmine. These flowers give way to cherries (the coffee fruit), which turn a vivid red when ripe, usually around 8-10 months after blooming. Each cherry houses two coffee beans.
Interestingly, it’s estimated that our relationship with coffee plants dates back to the 9th century, starting in the highlands of Ethiopia. Legend has it that a shepherd named Kaldi noticed his goats acting unusually lively after eating berries from a certain plant — yes, the coffee plant! The beans from this plant would later be used to create the world’s first coffee brew.
Today, coffee plants are grown all around the world, especially in regions with tropical climates. These include parts of Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. They form the backbone of the global coffee industry, which is estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Despite their commercial importance, coffee plants have also become popular houseplants, providing plant enthusiasts with the unique opportunity to grow their own coffee beans.
Identification of Coffee Plant
Coffee plants are usually identified by their glossy, dark green, and oval leaves that have a distinctive ruffled texture. The leaves are generally about 6 inches long and often have a slight curl, giving them a unique aesthetic appeal.
The plants have an upright growth habit, with multiple stems sprouting from the base. In nature, they can reach heights of up to 15 feet, but indoor plants are often maintained between 3 and 6 feet through regular pruning.
When it comes to flowers, coffee plants produce fragrant, star-shaped blooms that are pure white in color. These blooms, which appear in clusters on the stems, bear a close resemblance to jasmine flowers and provide a delightful contrast to the dark green leaves.
After flowering, the plant produces cherries that change color from green to yellow, then to a brilliant red when ripe. Each cherry houses two coffee beans, which are actually the seeds of the fruit.
Types and Varieties of Coffee Plant
While there are about 120 species of Coffea, two species dominate the coffee industry: Coffea arabica (Arabica coffee) and Coffea canephora (Robusta coffee).
- Coffea arabica (Arabica): Native to Ethiopia, Arabica coffee makes up about 60-70% of the world’s coffee production. It’s known for its delicate, nuanced flavors and lower caffeine content compared to Robusta. As a houseplant, Arabica plants are preferred for their more manageable size and beautiful, glossy foliage.
- Coffea canephora (Robusta): Originating from sub-Saharan Africa, Robusta coffee is more robust, as its name suggests, and can withstand harsher conditions. It contains more caffeine than Arabica, resulting in a stronger, bitter taste. Robusta plants are larger and yield more fruit, but they’re not as common as houseplants due to their size.
Facts about Coffee Plant
- From Flower to Fruit: Did you know that it takes about 6-8 weeks for a coffee plant’s flower to develop into a green cherry and another 6-8 months for it to ripen to a red cherry? That’s patience for you!
- Living Long: With the right conditions and care, coffee plants can live for up to 100 years! However, their prime productive years are typically between 7 and 20 years.
- Beans or Seeds?: Contrary to common belief, what we call ‘coffee beans’ are actually the seeds of the coffee cherry. Each cherry usually contains two seeds.
- Home to Many: Coffee plantations serve as habitats for a wide variety of animal and plant species. They also play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle, storing significant amounts of carbon.
- Coffee and Culture: Coffee has deeply influenced cultures around the world, leading to the rise of coffeehouses or “cafes” as centers of social activity in many societies.
Tips to Grow Your Coffee Plant
Growing a coffee plant at home can be a gratifying experience. Here are some tips to help you care for your plant:
- Light: Coffee plants prefer bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves, so make sure your plant is in a location that gets plenty of filtered light.
- Water: Maintain a regular watering schedule to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Coffee plants dislike sitting in water, which can lead to root rot. Always allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again.
- Humidity: These plants enjoy humid environments, replicating their natural tropical habitat. Consider placing your plant in a bathroom or kitchen where humidity is naturally higher, or use a pebble tray or humidifier to increase moisture levels.
- Soil: Coffee plants prefer well-draining, slightly acidic soil. A peat-based potting mix with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5 works well.
- Pruning: Regular pruning helps manage the size of your coffee plant and encourages a bushier growth. Prune back by one-third in the spring to promote new growth.
- Temperature: Maintain a temperature between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Coffee plants can be sensitive to temperature fluctuations, so avoid placing them near drafts or heating vents.
- Feeding: Feed your plant with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season (spring and summer) and every four weeks during the dormant season (fall and winter).
Major Problems with Coffee Plants
Coffee plants are generally easy to care for, but there are a few problems that you might encounter:
- Yellowing Leaves: This is often a sign of overwatering. Let the plant dry out and adjust your watering schedule.
- Brown Leaf Edges: This could indicate that the humidity is too low. Mist the leaves or use a pebble tray or humidifier to increase humidity.
- Slow Growth or Leaf Drop: Coffee plants require plenty of nutrients to grow. If your plant’s growth seems to have stalled or leaves are dropping, it may need more fertilizer.
- Pests: Coffee plants can attract pests like aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Regularly check the leaves for signs of pests and treat with a suitable insecticide or neem oil as soon as possible.
Care and Maintenance
Caring for a coffee plant involves a balance of the right environment and proper maintenance. Here are some key points:
- Repotting: Coffee plants prefer being slightly root-bound, but you should consider repotting every two years or so as the plant grows. This gives the roots more space and also provides an opportunity to refresh the soil.
- Dusting: The large leaves of the coffee plant can gather dust. Regularly clean the leaves with a damp cloth to ensure the plant can photosynthesize effectively.
- Pruning: Prune the plant to maintain its shape and size. Regular pruning encourages a bushier plant.
- Propagation: Coffee plants can be propagated from cuttings or seeds. This allows you to expand your coffee plant collection and share it with friends.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, coffee plants make excellent indoor plants due to their tolerance of low light conditions and relative ease of care.
Coffee plants generally start to produce fruit (cherries), which house the coffee beans, when they’re about 3 to 4 years old.
Yes, but it’s a lengthy process. You have to harvest the cherries, extract the beans, dry them, roast them, and finally grind them to make coffee.
Yellow leaves are often a sign of overwatering. Adjust your watering schedule and make sure the plant’s soil is well-draining.
Yes, coffee plants can be propagated from seeds or cuttings, though growing from cuttings is generally more successful.
Choose a location with bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves. A north or east-facing window is usually a good spot.
Coffee plants prefer a well-draining, slightly acidic soil. A peat-based potting mix with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 is ideal.