Grow Your Own Coffee!
Whether it's the vigorous, caffeine-fueled, morning pick-me-up, or the intoxicating aroma wafting through kitchens, cafes and diners, coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the United States. Many Americans start their day with a freshly brewed cup at home or on the go, but those store-bought coffee brands and gourmet coffee chains can sure get expensive after awhile. This is why we're giving coffee drinkers some helpful tips on how to grow your own coffee--right in the comfort of your own home.
Seeds or Potted?
How you choose to start your coffee growing process is, of course, your decision. Like any other plant, you can start with seeds and grow from the very beginning, or purchase a potted plant that's already sprouted some leaves. If you're not patient and don't want to wait the time it will take the plant to produce from seeds (sometimes as much as 8 years depending), try a plant that's already been started in a pot, like Gurney's Coffee Plant, which produces fruit in 3-4 years. It's easy, hassle-free and you can get coffee beans sooner rather than later.
Perhaps more than any other plant, it's important to replicate the coffee plant's natural environment: humidity, mist and filtered sunlight. Growing indoors is common in the United States, usually in a windowed room that lets in about 4-5 hours of sunlight a day (you can also use artificial lighting, which may be easier), and stays between 60 and 80 degrees during the day and doesn't dip below 45 degrees at night. If you live in a warm climate, you can grow outdoors, but temperature regulation will be a challenge, because even one colder-than-usual night can destroy the plant.
Just an FYI to keep in mind when deciding where to grow: Coffee makes for a great indoor plant because of its aroma and health-related benefits. While growing, coffee plants bloom white flowers that emit a jasmine-like scent--rich, sweet, floral and exotic.
Assuming you're going to keep your coffee plant indoors, pick a spot with ample room. Coffee plants can grow up to 10 feet, so keep this in mind. They can be pruned if needed, either by pinching or cutting.
Caring for Your Coffee Plant
After you've placed your indoor plant in the right growing scenario, it's time to maintain it. Keeping your coffee plant well-watered and well-fed is important. Coffee seeds should be watered daily, and the soil should be kept moist, but well-drained. Not enough water can obviously kill the seed, but so can too much. Fertilizers should be used every two weeks from March through October, and once a month from November to February. It is possible to get quality fruit (the beans) from the plant with absolutely no fertilization, but your quantity may be lesser without fertilization. You should use a water-soluble fertilizer. Gurney's Fruit Tree Food is recommended.
Picking the Fruit
Small, green berries will begin to appear 1½ to 2 months after fertilization. In another 7-9 months, the green berries will begin to turn red, and that's when they'll be ripe for picking. Each berry has two beans inside it, but not all berries will change color at the same time, so use discretion when picking.
Once you've picked your fruit off the tree and removed the beans, roast them and start your day with your very own, homemade cup of Joe!