Everybody loves a good cup of coffee, but not everyone likes paying a lot of money for the caffeinated beans. Luckily there’s a fun solution: growing your own coffee beans at home. Unfortunately, it can be hard to locate proper information about this craft online.
This guide will simplify things and tell you everything you need to know on how to grow coffee beans at home. Before you know it, you’ll be holding a cup of joe that came from your own coffee plant by your window.
How to Grow Coffee Beans: What to Know Before Your Grow
Although generally safe for everyone, coffee should not be ingested by babies or animals. Keep the coffee plant out of reach of any creature or human that coffee might harm. If that’s not possible, it might be best to grow another plant or wait until a further date to attempt this process.
Types of Coffee Plants You Can Grow
There are many different coffee plants, and not all are created the same. Let’s go over the most popular ones before moving into the details of growing your own. Some of these include:
- Liberica: This coffee bean is unique, a combination of fruity, floral, and even smoky. It also happens to be the rarest and likely the most difficult to access.
- Arabica: Also known as Coffea Arabica. The Coffea arabica is a fairly common coffee bean. It tastes a bit sweet and occasionally fruity. Arabica beans also contain less caffeine than some of its fellow coffee.
- Robusta: Robusta tends to be more bitter and is the savory of the coffees. If you like an earthy, harsh drink, this is for you. Black coffee drinkers will enjoy this one.
- Excelsa: This bean is tarter than the others. It’s a mix of light and dark roast, rare and a very sought-after flavor.
There are many other types, but these are the most common. The popular ones are the Arabica coffee plants and the Robusta coffee plants.
If you prefer specialty coffee, then the Arabica coffee plant is the one you should be growing. Once you’ve selected your coffee, you can move forward into the world of bringing this wonderful plant to your own home.
Understand the Two Types of Coffee Plant Seeds
There are essentially two types of seeds in this process. Both of them are prepared differently but will produce the same coffee in the end. It is up to you to decide which method you prefer. We’ll go over both of them to help make the decision easier.
Green Coffee Seeds
Green coffee seeds are the easiest to gain access to. They can be purchased in two locations:
- A local plant nursery: Although rare, your local nursery may have coffee seeds for sale. Check yours before looking online, as you may have quicker and more reliable access.
- Online: Such as these Arabica Seeds on Amazon. It’s important to note that shipped seeds may not grow as well as others, as moving long distances may damage them.
With green coffee seeds, you need to germinate them before you plant. We’ll talk about that a little later on.
The coffee cherry is the freshest form of seed and the ideal form. It’s the coffee’s purest form, still wrapped in fruit flesh like any other plant. It’s a bright red color and harvested about twice a year in countries by the equator.
However, it’s hard to gain access to fresh cherries in many places. Thus, it’s often easier to stick with green coffee seeds. The coffee cherry has to be prepared in a different way as well, which we’ll get into in a moment.
What to Expect During the Coffee Growing Process
Before we can talk about growing coffee beans, it’s important to understand just how these coffee plants develop.
Coffee plants are an evergreen shrub, which means that they will grow larger than your average house plant and take a while to reach maturity. You can expect several years to pass before your own coffee plant produces any fruit.
Coffee normally grows in the South American region, where it thrives in the temperate environment near the equator. We’ll talk about the specific growing conditions for this plant next.
What Kind of Growing Conditions You’ll Need for Coffee Beans
It’s also crucial to know the conditions required for this process. The ideal circumstances include the following elements:
- Tropical Climates: A coffee plant thrives in a tropical environment. High humidity provides extra nourishment for the coffee plants.
- Rich Soil: Coffee plants need nutrient-dense dirt and room for their roots to grow. As much as possible, keep the soil moist.
- Sunshine: A good balance of sunshine and shade is necessary. Hence, it is best to put your coffee plant indoors with sufficient sunlight and shade.
- Water: Coffee plants need a good amount of water, but it’s also important to have proper drainage and not overwater them.
As with any other plant, it’s important to research before you buy. Coffee plants take work to sustain, and all of these together will produce the best possible yield of coffee beans. Although it seems like a lot, these conditions are quite easy to achieve once you adopted a rhythm.
Select the Proper Growing Materials
As with any other plant or living thing, you’ll need a few important materials for it to grow. Without proper care, your coffee plant won’t last very long in an unnatural environment.
A Variety of Pots
Choosing what you want your coffee to grow inside is crucial. You’re going to need a variety of sizes, as you’ll need to increase the pot width along with the increasing size of the coffee plant. Some great pots on Amazon include:
All of these all relatively affordable to buy and are necessary when planting your coffee plant seeds.
The Right Soil
Soil is also crucial in the growing process of your coffee plant. There are two ways you can go about gaining access to a good growing base for your coffee:
- Composted Soil: Compost, which you can read about here on NRDC.org, is an excellent choice for coffee plants. You can create it yourself, and it’s full of nutrients that your organism needs to survive.
- Store-bought Soil: Although typically not as nutrient-packed, store-bought soil can be used. You might try this potting mix from Amazon as a starter and work from there.
If you have a strong base, you will have a strong coffee plant. Take care to ensure that the soil you pick will take care of it so you can receive the healthy beans you’d like to one day.
You’ll need a watering can for your coffee plant. A cup would also suffice, but a can might be reused for other projects and allows for accuracy. They are very affordable, such as this one on Amazon. It’s a worthy investment.
Although it seems like a small detail, you can use a spray bottle to maintain a temperate environment for the coffee plant. Rather than rewatering it when the soil is dry, you can spritz the soil with water. You can do the same to the leaves. Some great affordable bottles on Amazon are:
These will allow you the freedom to spray your coffee plant as necessary without overwatering it day by day.
This is an optional investment. However, a humidifier may prove to be easier for you in the long run. They maintain a temperate environment and keep the plant hydrated. All you have to do is refill the tank with water when it runs out. We’ll talk more about this one later.
A variety pack of gardening tools will come in handy throughout this process. Although no large tools are needed, there are a couple of smaller ones that you should have on hand at all times as your plant matures:
- Hand trowel: This is used to scooping dirt into the pot and shovel the plant out of its container. A hand trowel will serve you well in many ways.
- Hand pruner: Both leaves and roots have to be trimmed on the coffee plant, so hand pruners come in handy. They also work very well when the time comes to harvest the ripe coffee cherries.
- Hand rake: When you need to stir up the soil, a hand rake allows you to do that with minimal disturbance to the plant’s roots.
As you move along, you may discover that you need more tools than these three. However, this basic kit should be enough to get you started in your growing journey.
Choose Your Location
Coffee plants can grow very well in certain locations. Hence the place that you choose to grow your plant is very important. The most common place to set up is inside, but we’ll go over a few different methods you can utilize in your process.
If you decide to plant inside, make sure you keep your coffee out of direct sunlight by a window. Indirect light will be enough for the coffee plant, thanks to the typical tropical environments they thrive in.
Make sure that the location is warm but not hot. Anything too extreme in either direction will prevent your plant from flowering and may even kill it.
Although this isn’t the recommended method, planting coffee outside your home can still be done. If your climate is mild enough to sustain the coffee tree (such as in Florida), you can go ahead and use this method.
Double-check that your location has a few things before committing:
- Indirect sunlight: Dappled sunlight works the best for these since they are used to being in tree-filled environments. Too much direct sunlight will cause sunburn damage.
- Water with drainage: Coffee plants need water, but they can’t be flooded by it. Make sure that excess liquid has a place to escape.
- Good soil: It should be slightly acidic, but not to an extreme degree.
- Humidity: This is important. Outside, the humidity should be high. This is a good reason why indoor growing tends to produce more for beginners and experts alike.
- Mild temperatures: It shouldn’t be freezing, but it also shouldn’t be hot. Coffee plants thrive in temperatures of about sixty to seventy degrees Fahrenheit, as stated by climate.gov.
If you are confident in your location, plant outside. Otherwise, go with the inside method.
Get Ready to Grow Coffee
Now you’re officially ready to grow coffee. Finally! Next, we’ll outline the steps you’ll need to grow the coffee bean, starting with the seeds.
Germinate the Seeds
As discussed earlier, green coffee seeds need to be germinated before use. If you chose these seeds, you’d need to do this.
This is a simple but important step. Your fresh seeds need to soak in water for about twenty-four hours before they are planted. If you’re curious about what germination is, you can learn more about the process in this fun YouTube video.
Harvest the Coffee Cherry
On the other hand, if you managed to get fresh coffee cherries, the process will look slightly different. To get your seed out of the freshly picked coffee cherry, you need to:
- Pulp the fruit: Take the skin off the outside and place it inside a separate container.
- Ferment the Coffee: Let it sit out for a few days until the remaining flesh peels easily.
- Dry the Coffee: This step is optional. You can leave the coffee seeds out to dry or plant them immediately. Either way will work. It’s up to your discretion to decide.
The resulting seed from this process will leave you with an excellent starting point for the plant you’re trying to create. The seeds will be ready to be put into the ground right after completing this process.
Plant Your Seed
Once you’re all set up and have a good area for proper growth, it’s time to put the seed into the ground. Ensure that the soil is moist before using a small shovel to bury the seed underneath the surface gently. Ensure that it is completely covered and sprinkle it with a small amount of water.
Tend the Harvest Day by Day
Like most plants, consistency is key. Ensure you check up on it every day and that it stays healthy. There are many steps to keep up with this and ensure that it reaches its full potential.
Check the Water Daily
The plant should be watered about once a week but check it daily to ensure that the soil is moist. If not, you can spritz it with a spray bottle. Checking is also crucial to ensure that the water is draining properly from the pot.
It’s easy to tell if your plant is being overwatered. The soil should be damp but not soaked. An overwatered plant will have puddles inside of the pot. If this happens, simply drain the excess. Drill holes to create proper drainage for future watering sessions.
Keep the Room Humid
As your plant grows, you may want to invest in a humidifier. This will maintain extra water and ensure that the plant is comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. Some great options found on Amazon include:
With these, you can avoid the hassle of raising the humidity by yourself and instantly improving the quality of life for your plant with the touch of a button.
Replant as Necessary
Remember, this plant will continue to grow over time. When you notice that it is starting to outgrow its container, you should move it to a bigger pot. This can be done in a few easy steps:
- Select your pot: Choose one that is a few inches larger in diameter than the one in use now. You don’t want to go too big or too small.
- Place soil inside the pot: Layer the brand-new pot with soil. Leave enough room for the plant to be placed inside and surrounded once again.
- Remove the plant: Gently dig the plant out of its old container with a small spade. Take care not to damage the roots in the process. This could harm your coffee’s chance of survival.
- Prune the roots: Untangle the roots and carefully clip the ends, much like a hair trim. Don’t cut off too much, or the plant will die.
- Replant: Place the plant in the new container, place new soil over the top, and rewater the coffee.
This should be done every so often over a few years until the coffee has reached full maturity.
Harvest the Coffee Beans
After a couple of years, your coffee plant should be at a point where you can harvest the beans. This can be done in a few simple steps:
- Pick the fruit: Pull coffee cherries from the tree, gathering them into a location where you can handle them all at one time. A ripe coffee cherry will come off easily and be bright red.
- Dry the fruit: Let the coffee cherries sit out in the sun, drying out the moisture content until they are wrinkled. You’ll need to move them every day to prevent spoil.
- Peel the outside off: Once the cherries are dry, you can peel away the fruit from the skin. Discard this.
- Store the coffee beans: You finally have your very own beans. You can store these in any type of bag you’d like, though sackcloth or thick plastic tend to work best. These should be sealed for freshness.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready to create your very own cup of coffee with your hand-grown beans.
Brew a Good Cup of Coffee
Now that you’ve grown and harvested your beans, there are several ways you can create a masterful cup of coffee.
The Classic Hot Cup
This one is easy. Simply grind your beans, place them inside your coffee maker, and brew a cup of coffee in the same manner, you would grounds from the store. Balance and experiment with the ratio of grounds to water to find your favorite cup.
You can also mix in creamer or milk to sweeten up the drink. These can be found at any local grocery store for a reasonable price. Of course, you can always opt for a cup of black coffee if sweetened beverages aren’t your favorite in the morning.
If you’re feeling a bit fancy, opt for a classic cup created in a dressed-up manner. A pour-over coffee can be made by using the following steps:
- Grind the beans: Blend your beans into fine coffee grounds, just like the ones you’d be able to find at your local grocery store.
- Place filter in the container: For this, you’ll need a special vessel like this Primula Park Set on Amazon. Set the filter on the very top of the contraption. Make sure that it’s evenly placed.
- Rinse the filter: It’s important to run some water through your filter before making the coffee. Pour an entire carafe’s worth through, making sure to cover every available surface area of the filter.
- Place the grounds: Pour your grounds into the top of the contraption, right into the filter. Spread them evenly.
- Pour your coffee: Pour hot water over the grounds, moving slowly and in a circular manner. Within a minute or so, your beverage will be ready.
This unique method of creating a delicious cup of caffeine is sure to spice up your coffee-making process. It’s an art that takes practice, but it’s worth it for a hand-crafted beverage.
This style of coffee is cold, but it’s created in a way that involves no ice. Cold-brew is easy to make. Simply take a cold-brew coffee jar, like this one sold on Amazon, and place your ground coffee beans inside the filtered cylinder. Leave it overnight and remove it the next morning for a delicious cup.
You can add cream to this concoction to make it sweeter. If it’s not cold enough, you can also add extra ice for a heightened chill factor.
Caffe au Lait
By simple definition, a caffe au lait is a specialty drink made by mixing freshly brewed coffee and steamed milk. The beverage is different from another similar drink, the latte because it contains no espresso. It’s trendy, very delicious, and very easy to make.
To make a perfect, steaming cup of caffe au lait, follow these simple steps:
- Grind your beans: As with most of these recipes, the first step is to grind the beans. This brings out the flavor and allows the water to seep through and create coffee.
- Froth your milk: You can purchase a milk frother, which will froth your milk for you. Or you can place the milk inside a sealed mason jar and shake it to create the same effect.
- Combine the two: First, add the coffee into your cup. Then, pour the frothed milk on top. Mix the two to your degree of liking. It should be a creamy shade of light brown.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll have a delicious and frothy morning beverage. If you want to spice up the caffe au lait, add espresso to the brewed coffee for an additional boost of energy to your morning.
If the previous ideas seem too complicated, you can always resort to another classic. To make iced coffee, you only need to brew regular coffee and chill it in the fridge. Place ice cubes in a cup and pour the coffee over for a simply chilled beverage.
For non-watered-down coffee, you can even freeze the liquid into coffee ice cubes. Sweeten it with creamer, sugar, and milk. You can even add flavorings of your choice. These can be purchased at any local grocery store.
What to do When Your Grow Extra Beans
If you find yourself with extra coffee beans on your hands after you’ve completed this process, don’t worry. You don’t have to throw them away. There are a lot of things you can do with the excess.
One of the coolest things you can do with extra coffee beans is to turn them into compost. You can do this by:
- Grinding: To get maximum value out of the old coffee beans, it’s important to grind them up before adding them to compost.
- Short-Term: You can place the grounds into the soil and immediately use it.
- Long-Term: You can place the grounds into a compost pile and let it work its magic.
By doing this, you can reuse coffee beans to help grow more in the future. It’s an awesome recycling process that keeps on giving.
Use as Fertilizer
In an even more instant version of this, you can immediately use the excess coffee beans to fertilize your garden. Simply grind them up and sprinkle them onto the soil of plants that you already have. Coffee grounds also work as a natural insect repellant for your greens.
Cover Them in Chocolate
Who doesn’t like a coffee-flavored dessert? A great solution for excess coffee beans is to cover them in chocolate. You’ll need a few things for this:
- Chocolate chips/Melting chocolate
- Microwavable dish/Pot
It’s that easy. Just melt the chocolate, either on the stove or in the microwave, and then mix the beans with the melted chocolate. Lay them out, let them harden, and you’ve got a yummy, homemade wake-up snack!
Use Them in Cooking
If you love the taste of coffee, why not try incorporating the leftover grounds into your favorite dish? Whether it’s steak, pie, or ice cream, the addition of coffee is sure to add a wonderful spark. After all, who doesn’t love coffee created right from home?
As an avid coffee drinker, I have always been fascinated in growing my own coffee beans at home to serve my caffeine needs. While it may take a few years to see the fruits of my labor, I’m quite pleased with the progress of my own coffee tree. And I’m really looking forward to tasting the coffee from my very own home-grown arabica coffee plant.
And you can do the same too by following the steps that I have laid out in this article!