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From Bean to Brew: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Your Own Coffee

November 24, 2023
5 minutes read
A coffee plant with ripe red beans

Are you a coffee enthusiast who's tired of the same old store-bought brew? Or perhaps you're an adventurous gardener looking for your next green thumb challenge? Either way, you're in the right place. Welcome to the world of homegrown coffee, where the journey from bean to brew is as satisfying as the caffeine kick itself.

Understanding the Coffee Plant

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of growing coffee, let's take a moment to appreciate the plant itself. Coffee comes from the Coffea genus, a collection of flowering plants native to tropical regions of Africa. The two most popular species are Coffea arabica (Arabica coffee) and Coffea canephora (Robusta coffee). Arabica is known for its smooth, mild flavor, while Robusta packs a stronger, more bitter punch.

These plants are evergreens, meaning they keep their foliage all year round. They can grow up to 30 feet tall in the wild, but don't worry, they're perfectly happy to be pruned to a manageable size for your living room or backyard. And the best part? They produce beautiful, fragrant flowers that eventually turn into the coffee cherries we know and love.

Arabica vs. Robusta: Which Should You Grow?

Arabica and Robusta each have their pros and cons. Arabica plants are generally easier to grow, as they prefer cooler temperatures and higher altitudes. They also produce a higher quality coffee. However, they're more susceptible to diseases and pests.

Robusta plants, on the other hand, are hardier and can withstand warmer temperatures and lower altitudes. They also have a higher caffeine content, which can be a plus or a minus depending on your caffeine tolerance. However, their coffee is often considered inferior to Arabica's.

Getting Started: Planting Your Coffee Beans

Now that we've covered the basics, let's get down to business. The first step in your homegrown coffee journey is planting your beans. But before you start digging, there are a few things you need to know.

Coffee plants prefer a specific type of environment. They like well-draining soil with a pH between 6 and 6.5, and they need a lot of sunlight. However, they don't like extreme heat or cold, so if you live in a region with harsh winters or scorching summers, you might want to consider growing your coffee plant indoors.

Choosing Your Beans

When it comes to choosing your beans, you have two options: you can either buy pre-germinated seedlings or start from scratch with green coffee beans. If you're a beginner, we recommend starting with seedlings, as they're easier to handle and have a higher success rate.

If you're feeling adventurous and want to start with green beans, make sure you buy them from a reputable source. The beans should be fresh and free from any visible defects. Remember, the quality of your beans will directly affect the quality of your coffee.

Planting Your Beans

Once you've chosen your beans, it's time to plant them. If you're using seedlings, simply plant them in a pot with well-draining soil, making sure the top of the seedling is level with the soil surface. If you're using green beans, soak them in water for 24 hours, then plant them in damp soil about half an inch deep.

After planting, place your pot in a sunny spot and water it regularly. Coffee plants like moist soil, but not waterlogged, so make sure your pot has good drainage. With the right care, your seedlings should start sprouting in a few weeks.

Caring for Your Coffee Plant

Now that you've planted your beans, it's time to nurture them into full-grown coffee plants. This involves regular watering, occasional fertilizing, and a bit of patience.

Coffee plants like their soil to be consistently moist, but not waterlogged. A good rule of thumb is to water them when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. They also appreciate a humid environment, so if you're growing your plant indoors, consider placing a tray of water near it to increase humidity.

Fertilizing Your Coffee Plant

Like all plants, coffee plants need nutrients to grow. A balanced, slow-release fertilizer applied every few months should do the trick. Just be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can harm your plant.

Additionally, coffee plants love acidic soil. You can maintain the acidity of your soil by adding used coffee grounds or compost to it regularly. Just make sure to mix it in well, as coffee grounds can mold if left on the surface.

Pruning Your Coffee Plant

Pruning is an important part of coffee plant care. It helps maintain the size of your plant, promotes better air circulation, and can even increase yield. The best time to prune is in the late winter or early spring, before the plant starts producing new growth.

To prune your coffee plant, simply cut off any dead or diseased branches, as well as any branches that are growing inwards or crowding the center of the plant. Remember to make your cuts at a 45-degree angle to promote healing.

Harvesting and Processing Your Coffee Cherries

After all your hard work, it's finally time to reap the fruits of your labor. Coffee cherries typically ripen about 8 to 9 months after flowering, turning from green to a bright, shiny red. When they're ready, they should come off the branch with a slight tug.

Once you've harvested your cherries, you'll need to process them to extract the coffee beans inside. This can be done through either the dry method or the wet method. The dry method involves spreading the cherries out in the sun to dry, while the wet method involves soaking the cherries in water to remove the pulp.

Roasting Your Coffee Beans

After processing, you'll be left with green coffee beans. These beans need to be roasted to bring out their flavor. Roasting can be done in a specialized coffee roaster, or even in a regular oven or stovetop pan.

The roasting process involves heating the beans to high temperatures, causing them to turn brown and develop their characteristic aroma. The exact roasting time will depend on your personal taste, with shorter roasts resulting in lighter, more acidic coffee, and longer roasts resulting in darker, more bitter coffee.


Can I really grow coffee at home?

Absolutely! While it may be a bit more challenging than growing tomatoes or basil, with the right care and a bit of patience, you can definitely grow your own coffee at home.

How long does it take to grow a coffee plant?

From seed to harvest, it can take anywhere from 3 to 4 years for a coffee plant to start producing cherries. However, the plant itself can start sprouting in just a few weeks.

Can I grow coffee indoors?

Yes, coffee plants can be grown indoors, as long as they receive enough sunlight and humidity. In fact, they make excellent houseplants due to their attractive foliage and fragrant flowers.


And there you have it, a comprehensive guide to growing your own coffee. From understanding the coffee plant to harvesting and roasting your own beans, we've covered it all. So why not give it a try? After all, there's nothing quite like sipping a cup of coffee that you've grown and brewed yourself. Happy gardening, and happy brewing!

About me
Liz Walker
Liz Walker
Hey there! I am Liz, a dedicated gardener and nature enthusiast with over two decades of hands-on experience.
Through my articles, I share insights ranging from organic pest control to creating stunning garden designs.
My aim is to inspire you with the joys of gardening, providing practical advice that makes nurturing your green space both fulfilling and enjoyable.
More about Liz
Liz Walker
Liz Walker
Hey there!

I am Liz, the founder of MyAeroGardening. 
Through my articles, I share insights ranging from organic pest control to creating stunning garden designs.
My aim is to inspire you with the joys of gardening, providing practical advice that makes nurturing your green space both fulfilling and enjoyable.
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