Anyone can grow their own coffee plant at home if they are patient enough to follow through with the process. It will take several years to complete this process, and there will be equipment you will need to purchase to complete the task, but the end result will be worth the long process and money!
Here are a few tips on how to grow a coffee plant at home and what supplies you will need to purchase to do so.
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What is the process of growing coffee?
The process of growing a coffee plant from seed and processing the beans in a commercial setting to make sure they are ready to be turned into the coffee that you know and love is a long one. Here are the steps:
- Plant the seed. Coffee seeds are generally planted in large beds in shady nurseries and need to be watered frequently. Planting usually occurs during the wet season so the soil can remain moist. Over time, the seedlings will grow stronger and will be exposed to more sunlight as they mature.
- It usually takes three to four years (yes, years) for coffee trees to bear fruit called cherries. When the fruit is ready to be harvested it will turn bright red.
There is usually one major harvest a year, and the crops are picked by hand in most countries. In some countries, the process has become easier with machinery.
- Process the cherries. There are two processes: the dry method and the wet method. The dry method very simple.
The cherries are laid out on surfaces to dry in the sun. They are turned throughout the process so that each side of the cherry has a chance to dry. This process continues for weeks until the moisture content measures at 11%.
The wet method is a little more complicated. The cherries are passed through a machine, and this machine separates the pulp from the bean. The beans travel through a water channel, where the lighter beans rise to the top and the heavier, ripe beans sink to the bottom.
Once sorted, the beans go to assigned fermentation tanks to rid the bean of the last layer of mucilage. The beans are then ready for drying.
Just like the dry method, the beans need to be dried in the sun until the moisture content measures at 11%.
- Mill the beans. The beans are then ready to be milled. Hulling machinery removes the parchment layer from the bean.
An optional process called polishing makes the rough beans extra shiny. While many think this makes the bean more valuable, there really isn’t a difference in polished and unpolished beans.
The beans are then sorted by weight and size. When a defective bean is noticed, a worker may remove it by hand, or a machine will detect it and remove it.
Some beans are not large enough, or not the right color. These beans do not make it to the next step.
- Export the beans. They are usually loaded onto ships in shipping containers.
- Taste the coffee. The coffee is tasted by a professional called a “cupper.” The cupper visually examines the beans, then has them roasted.
Boiling water is added. The cupper smells the brew to make sure the coffee has an excellent aroma. The cupper takes a very quick “slurp” of coffee to see how it feels across their entire tongue. Each batch of beans has subtle differences, which the cupper can detect.
- Roast the coffee. The beans are then roasted in a machine that keeps them constantly in motion to prevent burning. When the beans become hot enough, they release an oil called “caffeol,” which is where coffee gets its amazing fragrance. This process is called pyrolysis.
- Grind the coffee. The entire point of grinding the coffee beans is to get the flavor into a cup of coffee. Coffee can be ground into fine or coarse granules.
- Brew the coffee. This is the final step in the coffee making process! Now the ground coffee can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.
What conditions would need to be replicated to grow coffee at home?
If you want to have freshly ground coffee from scratch, you will need to replicate almost all the steps listed above to grow coffee at your home. However, there are few steps you will not need to repeat such as:
- Drying the beans when the wet method is used. This will not need to be repeated because the dry process is recommended for growing at home.
- You will not need to export the coffee, since you are growing it at home.
- The milling process is different when growing at home because large machinery does not need to be used, as you can use a blender.
However, you will still need to plant and care for your seedlings, harvest them, process them, get rid of the layer of parchment paper by using a blender, roast, grind, and brew your coffee. You can taste it before roasting, but it is not necessary since it is not going to a large number of people.
What equipment would be needed?
Pots to grow your seedlings in: Make sure your pots have adequate drainage holes.
A hose to water your plants: Moisture is crucial for the coffee plant.
Soil or coffee grounds: Coffee plants need a rich potting soil with great drainage. Make sure your soil is acidic, as coffee plants prefer acidic soil.
Fertilizer: During the growing season, use a weak liquid fertilizer. Cut back on fertilizing during the winter months.
Gardening shears to prune: Coffee plants don’t need to be pruned very much, but it is always handy to have a pair of shears in case the need to prune does arise.
Blender: A blender is necessary to mill your beans.
Something to lay your cherries on while they dry: You’ll need a large space to lay your cherries out in one nice, uniform flat layer. You don’t want the cherries to be bunched up on top of one another.
Roaster: You will need a roaster to roast your beans.
Coffee grinder: A coffee grinder is needed to grind the roasted beans.
Coffee maker: You can’t have the final product – a home-grown cup of coffee – without a coffee maker!
How long would it take for the plants to grow?
It can take up to eight years if you grow your coffee plant from seed, which is why it is recommended to start a coffee plant from a mature seedling.
However, even if you start with a seedling, this process will still take up to three to four years before you even start seeing cherries. Keep this timeframe in mind and be patient!
How would you harvest, process, and roast the coffee?
- You will have to wait for the cherries to ripen before you can harvest them. Once they are bright red, you can simply pick the beans by hand. Then you will need to put them in a large pot of water to get rid of the layer of mucilage and let them soak overnight.
- The best method of processing the coffee is to dry them in the sun and to rake the beans. If the beans are in direct sunlight, it will only take a few days to completely dry them.
- Before roasting the beans, you need to remove any parchment paper from drying. Throw the beans in the blender with a dull blade and a pulse setting until the layer is removed.
- Purchase or use a small home roaster that allows you to prepare small amounts of beans.
I hope you benefited from these tips on how to grow a coffee plant at home! We wish you luck in your coffee-growing journey. Be sure to share any feedback with us in the comments section!