Coffee beans grow on


Where Coffee Grows

The coffee tree is a tropical evergreen shrub (genus Coffea) and grows between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The two most commercially important species grown are varieties of Coffea arabica (Arabicas) and Coffea canephora (Robustas).

The average Arabica plant is a large bush with dark-green oval leaves. The fruits, or cherries, are rounded and mature in 7 to 9 months; they usually contain two flat seeds, the coffee beans. When only one bean develops it is called a peaberry.

Robusta is a robust shrub or small tree that grows up to 10 metres high. The fruits are rounded and take up to 11 months to mature; the seeds are oval in shape and smaller than Arabica seeds.

Ideal average temperatures range between 15 to 24ºC for Arabica coffee and 24 to 30ºC for Robusta, which can flourish in hotter, harsher conditions. Coffee needs an annual rainfall of 1500 to 3000 mm, with Arabica needing less than other species. Whereas Robusta coffee can be grown between sea-level and about 800 metres, Arabica does best at higher altitudes and is often grown in hilly areas.


As coffee is often grown in mountainous areas, widespread use of mechanical harvesters is not possible and the ripe coffee cherries are usually picked by hand. The main exception is Brazil, where the relatively flat landscape and immense size of the coffee fields allow for machinery use.

Coffee trees yield an average of 2 to 4 kilos of cherries and a good picker can harvest 45 to 90 kilos of coffee cherry per day; this will produce nine to 18 kilos of coffee beans.

Coffee is harvested in one of two ways:

Strip Picked – all the cherries are stripped off of the branch at one time, either by machine or by hand.

Selectively Picked – only the ripe cherries are harvested and they are picked by hand.

Pickers check the trees every 8 to 10 days and individually pick only the fully ripe cherries. This method is labour intensive and more costly. Selective picking is primarily used for the finer Arabica beans.

This information is intended for Healthcare professional audiences.
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Life Cycle of the Coffee Bean

Propagation / Planting

For hundreds of years, Arabia strictly controlled coffee production, making it virtually impossible to export viable seeds outside of the Arabian Peninsula. Indeed, the very first fertile seeds were smuggled out by Baba Budan during his pilgrimage to Mecca in around 1600. The seedling that made its way from Paris to Martinique traces its roots to these very beans. As with most small trees, it is possible to propagate coffee plants from cuttings or shoots as well as from fertile seeds. The most successful and commercially viable way is to start new plants is from seeds selected from trees of known quality, productivity, and longevity. With proper care, leaves will appear in four to eight weeks. These leaves are called Orelbas de Onca or “panther ears” by Brazilian growers and indicates that the seedlings are ready to be transplanted to the nursery.

Soldado: A Latin American word used to describe sprouting coffee because of the similarity to a soldier standing at attention capped by a helmet-like bean.


Protected from the intense tropical sun by large shade trees, the seedlings are transplanted into beds or containers which are raised above normal soil level to encourage thorough drainage. In this protected nursery environment, the new coffee plants are nurtured from nine to eighteen months, reaching a height of about 24 inches. Growers will carefully increase exposure to sunlight over time to harden the young plants and ready them for transplanting on the more exposed plantation. On average it takes about 5 years for the coffee bush to reach maturity; at which point it yields approximately one pound of roasted coffee per year.


There is usually one major harvest per year, and it is labor intensive. Specialty coffee is always hand-picked to ensure that only ripe cherries are picked. Coffee pickers, make multiple passes typically every 8-10 days throughout the harvest season which can last four to six months. A good picker can harvest as much as 200 pounds of fruit each day, the equivalent of 50 to 60 pounds of raw coffee beans. Combine this effort with the high elevations and mountainous terrain that is favored for coffea arabica and it is easy to see how challenging and rewarding it is to grow coffee.

Cafe de Panno: Term used in Brazil for coffee picked in the cloth; i.e., a cotton sheet is spread on the ground under the trees. The fruit is then allowed to ripen and fall to the sheet, never touching the ground.

Processing the Cherries

Processing the coffee cherries involves the critical removal of husk and fruit from the beans and the subsequent drying of the beans to 11% moisture content. There are two main processing methods and the one used reflects local tradition, available resources and industry goals. The chosen processing method can have an integral impact on the flavor profile. For example, the wet-hulled process of Indonesia plays a big part in the earth tones and lower acidity of their coffee. It is arguable how much the flavor profile has to do with the characteristics of the growing region or the processing, but what can be assured is that all of these factors work in concert to give each coffee their distinct and special qualities.

The Dry Method or the Natural Method is the simplest and oldest method of preparation. Over 60% of the world’s coffees are processed this way. Harvested cherries are laid out on cane matting or brick patios under the hot sun. To ensure even drying and prevent spoilage, they are raked and turned several times a day. They are covered at night or in the event of rain. It takes 2-3 weeks of good, dry weather to thoroughly dry the cherries. Success depends on good weather.

The Wet Method or Washed Method is used where fresh water is abundant. There are several variations of the wet method but generally, harvested cherries are poured into large, water-filled tanks to soften the outer husk and pulp. Thus softened, the cherries are run through a pulping machine to actually remove and wash away the husk and pulp from the parchment covered beans. These beans, still covered in their silver skin, are sorted by weight via water channels and then by size in rotating drums. The separated beans are placed in large tanks filled with water. Sitting in these tanks for 12 to 48 hours a natural enzyme causes a fermentation process in which the layer of mucilage (parenchyma) attached to the parchment is dissolved. They are then dried in much the same way as the Dry Method. In some cases, these beans may be dried in large drying machines that shorten drying time of parchment coffee to 24 to 36 hours.

Cafe Pergamino, also known as parchment coffee, is said to be “in the parchment” when dried, after the outer skin and pulp have been removed by water. Some European markets require coffee exported to them in this manner.

Beneficio: a Mexican term, is the preparation area on a plantation where the drying terraces, fermentation tanks, washing vats, and warehouses are located.

Preparing for Export

Processed coffee is stored at origin in sisal or jute bags until they are ready for export. A combination of modern machinery and seasoned hands take coffee through the final processing stages to hull and sort the beans for the world market. Hulling is done by machines. For dry processed coffees, hulling involves the removal of the exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp or the entire husk. For wet processed coffees, only the endocarp need be removed since the others have already been discarded. Afterwards, some beans may be polished to remove any silver skin that remains. Traditionally polished coffees are considered superior but many argue that the benefit is negligible.

This is then followed by separation into five or more grades by running the beans through sieves and screens with specifically – sized holes. The traditional practice of manual sorting is accomplished with amazing speed and skill, and any flawed or discolored beans are removed before bagging into sacks marked with grade, plantation, and country of origin. The coffee is then ready for its journey to distant cups.

Cafe Bonifleur: Term from the French West Indies applied to coffee which has been thoroughly cleaned and polished. So called because the polishing machine used is called a bonifleur (improver).


From storage in great, covered warehouses where they have been neatly stacked, the bagged coffee beans are moved by conventional transportation to the docks. There, stevedores experienced in the careful handling of coffee, see that the bags are properly stowed aboard ship. In the hold, the bags are layered in tiers, separated by wooden battens or pallets to assure abundant air circulation throughout the voyage.

More than one third of the world’s coffee is addressed to the United States, followed by the Federal Republic of Germany.

Mocha: Formerly important coffee port on the coast of Arabia, closed by a sandbar over 100 years ago. Only coffees grown in Arabia are entitled to the trade name “mocha.” Coffees are now shipped through the ports of Hodeida and Aden. Mocha beans are small, smooth, and delicious in flavor.

The Basics of Growing Coffee

While millions of people begin their day with a steaming cup (or cups!) of freshly brewed coffee, the vast majority of us have never given much thought to the long road those beans travel to find their way to our cup. The morning ritual all of us coffee-folk love to perform, whether it be the process of grinding fresh beans in your kitchen and preparing the perfect cup, or quickly stopping into your local coffee shop for “the usual”, ours is just the final phase in a complex scenario that has become a global institution. And at the heart of this scenario are the people who spend their days planting, caring for, and harvesting coffee for the world to enjoy. Every cup of coffee you drink requires 1.4 square feet of land to be cultivated, an area bigger than your average computer screen! In this section we will take a broad look at the process of growing and harvesting the coffee bean.

For the most part, the coffee plant is grown inside the earths’ equatorial zone, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. This fact is seemingly due to environmental conditions and not to geographical constraint. The most important conditions necessary for a coffee tree to grow is the presence of a temperate or tropical climate where there is no frost, ample sunshine, and plenty of water. And of course, too much direct sunlight or hydration can have a reverse and detrimental effect upon the trees. Ideally, coffee should be grown in moist, fertile, well-drained soil under a shaded canopy that receives a healthy dose of sunshine each day. The presence of disintegrated volcanic rock with a rich mixture of decomposed mold can have an extremely advantageous affect upon the vitality and prosperity of the tree, though coffee tends to grow well in other types of soils, such as clay or alluvial. Coffee also seems to grow best in high altitudes, though once again this is due to the growing conditions that these altitudes provide and not to a specific altitude preference of the tree itself. Given these rather refined growing qualifications, the equatorial zone is the home to the vast majority of coffee farms in the world, though a few rouge growers are currently attempting to challenge this standard with farms operating outside of the famous “bean belt”.

More than a hundred types of coffee bean exist within the world’s coffee network. The two major species of the botanical genus Coffea, Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora (known familiarly as robusta), account for most of the coffee consumed around the world. C.arabica and C. robusta, as with all varieties of coffee, vary in terms of bean, roast, and cup.

Arabica beans, which represent around 70% of the worlds coffee market, are typically “washed”, or wet processed, and are generally larger, longer, and flatter than the robustas, with a more delicate, acidic flavor profile. Arabicas contain less caffeine than the robusta variety, and are thought to be more difficult to grow (as they tend to be more susceptible to diseases and the effects of poor soil conditions). Arabicas have a higher production cost (sometimes twice as much as robusta), and command a higher price than robustas. Arabica beans are acknowledged as having an overall better taste than robustas and are generally the variety used exclusively in finer, specialty coffees. They are also used as a flavor compliment to robusta blends. Currently, arabica accounts for about three quarters of the worlds coffee supply.

With a strong resistance to disease, hotter climates, and poor soil conditions, and the ability to withstand heavier tropical rainfalls, unpredictable and scant annual rains; robusta coffee beans tend to be easier to grow. Due to their harsh, bitter flavor profile, however, robusta coffees tend to collect a lower price on the market. These are generally the beans that are used in instant and mass-produced commercial coffees.

Anyone wishing to grow coffee must not only be living in a temperate environment but also be willing to undertake a long-term, labor-intensive commitment to their land and its crops. Coffee is typically grown from seed, and each tree takes on average between 3 to 5 years to bear fruit. Typically, a coffee tree has three main life phases; the growth phase, which lasts about 4 to 7 years: the productivity phase, which can last anywhere from 15 to 25 years, though this may vary widely: and lastly, the final phase in which the tree begins to physiologically decline until its death. Each healthy tree produces approximately 2,000 coffee cherries a year, or about 4,000 coffee beans (a coffee cherry typically contains two coffee beans), which translates to roughly one pound of roasted coffee per healthy tree. These cherries can take from seven to eleven months to ripen, and when ripe will develop into a deep red fruit about the size of a large grape. The impending arrival of the fruit is signaled by the appearance of strikingly beautiful jasmine-scented white flowers, which last only a few days before they die off and give way to clusters of green cherries, which in a few months will be ripe for picking. It is not uncommon to see all the stages of development taking place on a single tree at the same time. This requires the close attention of coffee farmers, as high quality coffee is largely a result of picking the cherry when its at peak ripeness, while allowing other cherries to reach maturity at their own pace.

Picking the cherry is still mostly done by hand, but has seen the encroachment of mechanical harvesters in certain regions which can do the work of 150 field workers, though not nearly as selectively and gently. Harvesting requires a gentle touch as picking the cherries too early or too late can result in off-flavors that come out in the cup, or result in visibly noticeable defects, which may deter a potential customer from buying a crop of green beans. There are generally two main harvests a year, and possibly several secondary harvests depending upon species, location, and growing conditions. Harvesting is such a labor-intensive task that it alone is responsible for roughly one-third of all the manual labor required in coffee production. Once harvested, the coffee beans must be sent to a mill where they can be processed, cleaned, and sorted. Depending on the size of the farm, the coffee may either be taken to a mill on site or may leave the farm entirely to be processed at a different location. Often times with smaller farms, the harvests are bought by intermediaries (commonly working for exporters), who then take the coffee to a mill for processing.

Overall, more than 200 million people grow coffee as a means of economic survival. Most estimates conclude that large coffee plantations make up only 20% of the world supply, with smaller farms (known in the business as smallholdings) accounting for the rest. Typically, a small farm depends solely upon coffee for their economic revenue, and balances this with subsistence farming of a multitude of other crops on the same land.

Due to the overall time, labor, and economic investment of growing coffee for a living, the ever-fluctuating world market, environmental factors that affect crop yields from year to year, and the many other political, social, and economic variables at play within each region and around the world, a commitment to those who grow coffee for a living is needed if we are to assure that the relationship we have with this bean and those who grow it is one that is reciprocal, just, healthy, and sustainable.

Growing Coffee Beans at Home

Growing coffee plants at home is a rewarding experience that will help you learn and appreciate the work involved in producing coffee. It is a very easy plant to take care of and is a great conversation piece, especially during flowering or cherry development.

When home growing coffee beans, you should start with a freshly picked coffee cherry. But unless you are in a producing country, however, this may not be possible and you can skip to section 2.

Harvesting Coffee and Preparing the Coffee Seeds

Ripe coffee cherries should be harvested and picked from trees with a high production and without any disease or other affliction. Pulp the cherry by hand, wash with water, and ferment in a small container until the pulp falls off. This can be determined simply by rubbing the coffee bean in you hands during the fermentation process. Wash again with fresh water. Any coffee beans that float at any stage of washing should be discarded. The coffee beans must then be dried to about 20% moisture content on mesh screen in open and dry air, but not in direct sunlight. After pulping, a coffee will have between 60-70% moisture content so you can determine the appropriate stopping point simply by weighing the beans. Otherwise, you can bite the bean open to ensure that it is dry on the outside and slightly soft and moist on the inside. Alternatively, a pulped coffee bean can be used immediately for planting and in some areas this is considered advantageous.

Germinating Coffee Beans

If coffee cherries are not readily available, green coffee can be purchased from a green coffee supplier, but it is essential that the bean is of a recent crop and recent shipment. I would recommend ordering green coffee from Sweet Maria’s and asking for the most recent crop. Sweet Maria’s also provides tips for growing coffeea arabica at home.

The potential for germination will continue for almost four months, but after this time the germination rate is several fold less and germination time is significantly longer. Fresh seeds should germinate in 2.5 months, but old seeds can take as long as 6 months. Coffee in pergamino is even better. If this is available plant the coffee face down in the pergamino.

It is advisable to pre-germinate the seeds. First soak the coffee seeds in water for 24 hours. Then sow the seeds in damp sand or wet vermiculite in which the excess water has been drained. Otherwise, you can place the seeds between moist coffee sacks, which should be watered twice a day and drained well.

Once the coffee seed germinates, very carefully remove it from the sand, vermiculite, or burlap bags. Make a hole about 1.25 cm deep in a friable loam soil with a high humus content. Rotted manure, bone meal, and dried blood can also be added. If this type of soil is not readily available try a light weight and porous soil. Place the seed flat side down in the hole and sprinkle soil over the hole. Do not press the soil down firmly. Placing a 1/2 inch of mulched grass on top will help preserve moisture, but should be removed when the seed has fully germinated.

The seeds should be watered daily. Too much water or too little water will kill the seed. The soil should remain well drained, but moist at all times.

After germination, the coffee plant should either be left alone or carefully removed and planted in a soil with a low pH (acidic) and high nitrogen content. The soil should be porous. Therefore, course sand or basalt gravel dust can be added. Manure can also be added. A fertilizer that is appropriate for orchids can be used sparingly for the coffee plant to maintain mineral levels and a low pH.

Coffee Plant Care

The coffee plant thrives under artificial plant lighting indoors. The outside temperature in countries outside the Tropic belt is too volatile and too cold to allow the tree to develop. Water the tree twice per week in what is called a full watering and a half watering. In a half watering, simply add some water to the soil and allow it to drain. In a full watering, add water, allow it to drain, and then add water with fertilizer and allow it to drain. The key is to keep the soil most, but well drained.

After two or three years flowering and possibly cherries can be expected, but do not expect high-quality coffee unless you are at a high altitude and are monitoring the conditions of the artificial microclimate carefully. For more coffee growing details please see the rest of the agriculture section. In theory, it is feasible to grow a high-quality coffee at home under the right conditions.

To spur flowering, wait until the beginning of winter and significantly reduce watering for 2-3 months. When Spring begins water the plant well, which should shock it into producing flowers. From this point forward, water well and regularly. Arabica coffee is self-fertilizing so you will not need to worry about pollinating.

Once the cherries mature you can harvest, pulp, ferment, dry, roast, and drink the coffee.

Growing Coffee

Coffee Plant

Environmental Conditions for Growing Coffee

Harvesting Coffee

Processing Coffee

Coffee Drying

Death Wish Merch

Little known fact: the same plant that yields berries with delicious coffee beans inside is also a great houseplant. You could have your own coffee plant indoors and with relatively little maintenance!

Widely considered one of the most resilient plants, it is perfect for beginners and experienced green thumbs. The coffee plant is an evergreen and doesn’t shed its leaves so it will look awesome in your home all year round.


Coffee plants, while easy to maintain, require some TLC to get them to your desired height and health. You can find seedlings in stores like Safeway or Wholefoods or even online. Once you purchase seedlings they usually come in a group of 4 to 6 plants about 4 inches tall.

1. Separate the seedlings

  • Leave them in a bowl of warm water overnight
  • The next day, separate them each into their own 4-inch pot

2. Begin growing process

  • Keep them in indirect sunlight, so they can be placed in your home near a window.
  • Water the plant and keep the soil moist, but not drowning. You can use organic potting soil to start out and make sure your pot has good drainage.

3. Repot plant when it’s big enough

When your plant reaches 8 inches, repot it into a larger pot. Repot again once more when it reaches 24 inches, which should take place about a year after you start growing your plant.

How long will it take for my coffee plant to flower?

With enough care, watering, repotting and the right indoor conditions, your plant could reach a height of six feet! This will take anywhere between 3 to 5 years, but at that time it could start to flower, and those flowers will eventually pollinate and become a fruit – the coffee cherry that yields the bean inside.

How many coffee plants do I need to grow my own coffee?

A single indoor coffee plant probably won’t yield enough for you to brew a whole pot of coffee, but who knows – maybe you are a master gardener and homegrown coffee will be yours!

Tips for growing your own coffee plant

The plant itself is a pretty sight in any home and is a joy to take care of and maintain. Mike Brown, CEO, and Owner of Death Wish Coffee Company has had a coffee plant in his home for a few years now and enjoys it every day.

“You have to make sure to keep it watered regularly, and be careful it doesn’t get too much sun, just enough,” Mike says. “Mine has never flowered, but that is probably because I could put it in a bigger pot to allow it to grow more, but I like it the way it is.”

Are you willing to try this for yourself? Have you already been growing coffee plants in your home? Send us an email at [email protected] and tell us your story. Include some pictures!

Happy gardening!



Auburn City Blend

First, there are two types of coffee beans

Coffee beans come from two basic versions of coffee plants: either the Robusta ( aka Coffea robusta, or Coffea canephora) or Arabica (aka Coffea arabica) version.

At Toomer’s Coffee Roasters we do not roast or sell Robusta beans. I once asked our coffee broker how much Robusta they sell and she said less that 5% of their total volume is Robusta. While it is higher in caffeine content (the main reason I guess a dubious roaster might add jack up the “vibrancy” of their blends), the overall taste issues and roasting peculiarities she said make it a less than desirable option.

Arabica beans on the other hand, while lower in caffeine content have a number of factors that make them the number #1 preference amongst 99% of roasters today, taste being the main factor. But we will cover that in a later articel specifically on Arabica beans.

They start life as a fruit

Coffee beans start out “Cherries” (Click to enlarge)

Arabica beans are grown on low (3-6 feet) shrubby plants that bear white blossoms that produce the coffee fruit called “cherries” (about the size and color of cranberries).

These coffee cherries are clustered along the limbs of the plant ( See image). The cherries are harvested from approximately October through January each year. Since the coffee cherries do not ripen together, several pickings of the the same plant may be required until all of the cherries have been harvested at the peak of ripenness.

This is the first step in the chain of factors that seperates fair coffee from truly exceptional coffee: only picking the red cherries. Mixing in under-ripe/ greenish cherries with red cherries will result in bitter coffee no matter how well it is roasted.

In our next article we will talk about the regions beans are grown in and how that affects flavor.

Why not try some of our Micro-Roasted coffees from around the world. These Specialty House Blends are legacy blends in our line up for 14 years. Order 5 bags and shipping is free anywhere in the Continental US too!

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  • ← → $13.95 Auburn City Blend has been our #1 Seller since 2004. From three different regions of Africa, this full bodied coffee is a favorite.
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  • Breakfast Blend

    $12.95 This is our most popular proprietary Medium Bodied house blend. We combine Brazilian Cerrado and our Colombian Supremo SHB in a tweaked to perfection caramel and chocolate mouth feel.
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  • Cold Brew Blend

    $12.95 The key to good cold brew is starting with good coffee and a great recipe. This Rainforest Alliance Certified, SHB (Strictly Hard Bean), high altitude grown blend is the result of lab testing this blend to perfection! (Hint: the critical key though is the infrared roasting process) We’ll even send you our in-house fail-safe Cold Brew recipe along with your purchase! (Shipped pre-ground for cold brew)
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    The key to good cold brew is starting with good coffee and a great recipe. This Rainforest Alliance Certified, SHB (Strictly Hard Bean), high altitude grown blend is the result of lab testing this blend to perfection! (Hint: the critical key though is the infrared roasting process) We’ll even send you our in-house fail-safe Cold Brew recipe along with your purchase! (Shipped pre-ground for cold brew)
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  • Dawn Patrol Blend

    $12.95 Full bodied proprietary America’s blend of French Roast and City Roast coffees with smooth chocolatey, caramel notes and great finish.
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  • Espresso Blend

    $13.95 First, remember, Espresso is not a roast: It refers to the method of preparation, from the Italian, loosley transated, “Just for you”. Actually you can use any roast when “pulling shots” of espresso. It’s really a matter of personal preference. This is ours.
    Our Espresso Blend was our house espresso blend for many years in our own Toomer’s Coffee shops. A yin and yang, dark and bright, blend of ebony and umber roasts from three countries, their highest grown SHB Arabica beans. It is worth noting too that we have many clients who love it as their daily grind for their drip coffee makers as well. Cheers!
    Popular for Drip too! First, remember, Espresso is not a roast: It refers to the method of preparation, from the Italian, loosley transated, “Just for you”. Actually you can use any roast when “pulling shots” of espresso. It’s really a matter of personal preference. This is ours.
    Our Espresso Blend was our house espresso blend for many years in our own Toomer’s Coffee shops. A yin and yang, dark and bright, blend of ebony and umber roasts from three countries, their highest grown SHB Arabica beans. It is worth noting too that we have many clients who love it as their daily grind for their drip coffee makers as well. Cheers!
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    French Roast

    $12.95 Our French Roast refers to the color of the bean after it has been roasted and is traditionally the darkest on the scale of roasts. French roasted coffee tends to have a dark chocolate color, with a smokey, rich flavor.
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Anatomy of the Coffee Fruit and Bean

The coffee fruit can be divided into two main parts, the pericarp and the seed.

Adapted from Borém, 2008

The pericarp is the outer three layers of the fruit: the exocarp (skin), mesocarp (mucilage), and endocarp (parchment).

Exocarp (Skin)
The exocarp, also referred to as the peel, skin, or epicarp, is the outermost layer of the coffee fruit. It is formed by a single layer of compact parenchyma cells (cells with thin primary walls that contain chloroplasts and are capable of absorbing water). The color of the exocarp at the beginning of fruit development is green due to the presence of chloroplasts which then disappear as the fruit matures (Castro and Marracini, 2006). Color upon maturation depends upon coffee variety, but is most commonly red or yellow. Red skin color comes from anthocyanin pigments, while yellow skin color is attributed to luteolin (Borem, 2008).

Mesocarp (Mucilage)
The mesocarp, also referred to as the mucilage, is the flesh of the coffee fruit. While “pulp” can sometimes refer to solely the mesocarp, the term usually refers to a combination of the exocarp and part of the mesocarp removed during pulping. In unripe coffee fruit, the tissue is rigid. With maturation, pectolytic enzymes break down pectic chains, resulting in an insoluble hydrogel that is rich in sugars and pectins (Borem, 2008). Studies have shown that the mucilage/water ratio of the mesocarp increases as growing altitude increases (Borem, 2008). In the wet processing method, this mucilage layer is removed through controlled fermentation. In the dry method, the mucilage, along with the exocarp and endocarp, is left intact during drying (see Harvest and Post-harvest) for more information).

Endocarp (Parchment)
The endocarp, or parchment, is the innermost layer of the pericarp and is the hull that envelops the coffee bean. It is formed of three to seven layers of sclerenchyma cells (fibrous cells that serve as the principal support cells in plants). The cells of the endocarp harden during coffee fruit maturation, thus limiting the final size of the coffee seed, or bean. In arabica coffee, the average weight of the parchment with 11% moisture content is around 3.8% of total coffee fruit weight (Wilbaux, 1961, as cited in Borém, 2008).

The coffee seed, or bean, comprises a silver skin, an endosperm, and an embryo. Coffee seed (bean) sizes vary; however, they average 10mm long and 6mm wide.

Silver Skin
The silver skin, also called the perisperm or spermoderm, is the outermost layer that wraps the seed. It is formed from the nucellus, or central portion, of the ovule. Generally some remnants of the silver skin remain on the bean pre-roast, and come off during coffee roasting as chaff. The silver skin may be polished off of the bean; however, it is generally accepted that this diminishes coffee flavor. It has also been proposed that the presence of a large amount of silver skin on milled coffee is a sign of coffee picked before its ideal ripeness. In some regions the silver skin may take on a darker hue, in which case the beans are called fox beans. Fox beans are not considered to be a defect.

The endosperm is the principal reserve tissue of the seed, and is composed of only one tissue, though the cells in the exterior and interior portion of the endosperm vary in oil content and cell wall thickness. The chemical content of the endosperm is of utmost importance since it is the precursor to the flavor and aroma of roasted coffee. The chemical compounds found in the endosperm can be classifed as soluble or insoluble in water. The water-soluble compounds are caffeine, trigonelline, nicotinic acid (niacin), at least 18 chlorogenic acids, mono-, di-, and oligosaccharides, some proteins and minerals, and carboxylic acids. Components insoluble in water include cellulose, polysaccharides, lignin, and hemicullulose, as well as some proteins, minerals, and lipids (Borem, 2008).

The embyro is composed of a hypocotyl (embryo axis) and two cotyledons and is 3-4 mm long (Wintgens, 2009). Coffee seeds germinate via epigeal germination, in which the hypocotyl elongates and pushes the seed upward above ground. The original cotyledons stay underground; however, new cotyledons will form.

Adapted from Wintgens, 2009


Tags: Coffee, Embyro, Exocarp, Exocarp Mesocarp, Pericarp, Seed


Typica (C. arabica L. cv. Arábica)

The plant that Linnaeus initially classified as Coffea arabica was, in fact, the Typica variety. It is from this variety that most arabica coffee plants are derived. Typica has relatively lower yields, but is known for its good quality in the cup.

Bourbon – Yellow (C. arabica L. cv. Bourbon Amarelo)
First discovered in 1930 outside of Pederneiras, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Yellow Bourbon is thought to be either a natural hybrid of Red Bourbon and Botucatu Yellow or a natural mutation of Red Bourbon. The plant is tall with yellow fruit, early maturation (20-30 days earlier than Mundo Novo), average screen size of 16, and is susceptible to leaf rust. The early maturation is especially favorable in higher altitudes or lower temperatures where maturation is delayed (Fazuoli et al., 2000). It was released commercially by the IAC in 1945 and has developed a reputation for excellent cup quality, including bright acidity and elevated sweetness.

Botucatu Yellow
In 1871, a natural mutation was discovered in a Typica field outside the city of Botucatu, Sao Paulo, Brazil that produced yellow fruit instead of red fruit (Oliveira and Maluf, 2007). It was called Amarelo do Botucatu, or “Yellow from Botucatu.” Due to lack of productivity,the plant was not introduced on a large commercial scale, however it is thought the its natural hybridization with Red Bourbon led to the Yellow Bourbon cultivar (Oliveira and Maluf, 2007).

Catuai – Red and Yellow
In 1949, the Instituto Agronomico de Campinas (IAC) crossed Mundo Novo and Red Caturra with the intent of combining the rust-resistance of Mundo Novo with the small size and high productivity of Caturra (Oliveira and Maluf, 2007). After several generations, Red Catuai and Yellow Catuai were released for commercial production. Catuai cultivar has shorter plant height, short internodes, mid to late maturation, average of 16 screen size, and moderate susceptability to leaf rust (Fazuoli et al., 2000). It is recommended for dense planting. Several lines of Catuai have developed, and it has become one of the most planted cultivars throughout Latin America.

Caturra (C. arabica L. cv. Caturra)
A natural mutation of the Bourbon variety discovered near Manhumirim in the Serra do Caparao range that divides the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo (CARVALHO et al., 1984). It was sent to the Instituto Agronomica de Campinas (IAC) in 1937, though it is likely that the mutation occurred at least 22 years prior to being received by the IAC (Oliveira & Pereira, 2008). The Caturra cultivar displays compact growth (short internodes) with early fruit maturation, high productivity, and average screen size of 16. Since Caturra was the first mutation discovered that offered decreased sizewith high production capacity, it was used by the IAC starting in the 1930’s for the genetic improvement of coffee and is the basis of many coffee cultivars commercially grown today. In Brazil, Caturra was not introduced commercially due to its lack of vigor, susceptibility to coffee leaf rust, and the fact that it enters into degeneration after several harvests. In the higher altitudes of Colombia and Central America, however, Caturra has flourished. Cup quality is considered to be moderate to good, however not as good a Bourbon or Typica. Caturra berries can be either red or yellow (Yellow Caturra and Red Caturra).

Due to the threat of coffee lead rust, the IAC focused on developing a rust-resistant plant. They acheived this by crossing of tetraploid C. Canephora cv. Robusta (Robusta coffee with its chromosome number artificially doubled) with C. arabica Bourbon, then backcrossing with Mundo Novo (Illy & Vianna, 1995) (Oliveira & Pereira, 2008). Icatu Tall height, red and yellow fruit, middle to late maturation, average screen size of 17, moderately resistant to leaf rust, medium to good cup quality (Fazuoli et al., 2000) (Illy & Vianna, 1995).

A natural mutation of Typica variety that first appeared near Maragogipe, Bahia, Brazil. All plant aspects of this mutation are larger than Typica, including tall plant height, large convex leaves that are broad at the base, and large bean size. Both yellow and red fruit varieties exist. Maragogipe also has a decreased level of caffeine, 0.6% vs 1.3% for Arabica (Wintgens, 2007). Due to its lower productivity it was not released for large scale commercial production in Brazil, but is now more commonly found in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Mexico. It has mild cup qualities.

Mundo Novo (C. arabica L. cv. Mundo Novo)
A natural cross of Red Bourbon and Sumatra first discovered in Mineiros do Tiete, Sao Paulo, Brazil (Oliveira & Pereira, 2008). Seeds of this natural hybrid were planted and selected in Mundo Novo, Sao Paulo, Brazil, now named Urupês. Mundo Novo is characterized by tall height, red fruit, middle maturation time, average screen size of 17, good vegetative vigor, and high productivity.

What is the difference between a varietal and a cultivar?
In coffee the term “varietal” is often used to refer to the origin of the coffee. For instance, a Cerrado is a coffee from the Cerrado region of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and is most likely a sweet and full-bodied coffee. This ambiguity is on its way out as this use of “varietal” is being replaced by the term “single origin.”

In wine, a “varietal” is a wine made from a single grape variety. For instance a bottle of Merlot wine is made from wine derived from the Merlot grape, thus it is a varietal.

In botany, a “varietal” is a plant type that occured naturally through cross-pollination, mutation, or adaption. Most varieties are true to type (their offspring will possess same characteristics as parent plants) A variety is always italicized, written in lower case, and oftentimes is proceeded by “var.” Cultivar is short for “cultivated variety,” and cultivars are plants that do/did not occur naturally, but rather have been bred for certain characteristics. Cultivars generally do not grow true to type, and must be propogated by other means. Almost all of the world’s food crops have been bred for certain traits and are therefore cultivars. Cultivar names are enclosed in single quotes ‘dsdsds,’ are never in italics, and are sometimes proceeded by the abbreviation cv. Two examples of common cultivars are Granny Smith (Malus ‘Granny Smith’) and Red Delicious (Malus ‘Red Delicious’) apples.


Carvalho, A.; Medina Filho, H. P.; Fazuoli, L. C.; Costa, W. M. . Hereditariedade do porte reduzido do cultivar Caturra. Genética de Coffea. XXVI Bragantia, Campinas, v.43, n.2, p. 443-458, 1984.

Oliveira, A.C., Maluf, Mirian. Diversidade em Coffea sp. O Agronomico, Capinas 59(1), 22-24, 2007.

Tags: Catuaí, Caturra, Cultivars, Genotype, Icatu, Mundo Novo, Red Bourbon, Typica, Yellow Bourbon

Pests and Diseases

As with any other agricultural crop, the coffee plant can suffer from attacks by pests and diseases. Below are a few examples of each, and how they can affect quality, yield, and cost of coffee beans.


Black Twig Borer (Xylosandrus compactus Eichhoff)

The black twig borer is native to Asia where it is a serious pest of Robusta coffee, but has spread to coffee growing regions throughout the world where it attacks Arabica coffee as well. Females bore into branches, twigs, and suckers, leaving a pin-hole sized entry. The plant is destroyed through tunneling as well as pathogens introduced by the borer. The black twig borer thrives in humid conditions since humidity facilitates the ambrosia fungus upon which the borer feeds in its younger stages. Infestations can be controlled by pruning (specifically removing unwanted suckers) and shade reduction (Wintgens, 2009).

Cicadas (Quesada gigas, Dorisiana drewseni, Carineta fascicuata, Carineta spoliata, Carineta matura)


Cicadas are often called locusts, though they are actually unrelated. Females lay eggs by cutting into the bark of tree branches and depositing eggs. After hatching, the nymphs falls to the ground where they burrow into the ground and feed from the sap of the tap root and other larger roots. This can cause chlorosis in the outermost leaves of the plant, as well as premature falling of leaves, flowers, and fruits. These systems are more predominant in dry periods (Moraes et al., 2004).

Coffee Borer Beetle (Hypothenemus hampei)

The coffee borer beetle is a small black beetle that bores into the lower portion of the coffee fruit and lays eggs in the seed endosperm. The coffee borer beetle thrives in humid conditions and dense crop spacing. The best means to limit infestations are through proper plant pruning and ensuring that all coffee is harvested and no coffee fruit is left in the fields between harvest.

Coffee Leaf Miner (Leucoptera coffeela)

The coffee leaf miner is a silvery white moth whose larvae penetrate the leaves of coffee plants and feed on the tissues between the epidermis, leaving a hollow area that dries out and results in brown spots. The larvae are around 5 mm long. If not controlled, the coffee leaf miner may cause intense defoliation and loss of production. Infestations are usually greater during hotter and drier periods of the year. The coffee leaf miner was first classified by French entomoligist Felix Edouard Guerin-Meneville in 1842. In Portuguese the Coffee Leaf Miner is commonly called bicho mineiro.

Coffee Red Mite (Oligonychus coffeae) and Southern Red Mite (Oligonychus ilicis McGregor)

The coffee red mite and the southern red mite are both spider mites, around 0.5mm in length and colored a reddish-orange with dark spots. Attacks, which are generally isolated, occur on the upper surface of mature coffee leaves. The leaves lose their shine and turn a brown, yellow, or bronze color. In dry and hot periods, the foliar damage can lead to premature defoliation of the plant.

Coffee White Stem Borer (Xylotrechus quadripes Chevrolat)

The larvae of the coffee white stem borer mine into the stem of coffee plants causing fragility in the plant. Younger plants usually usually die within one season of the infestation while older plants can survive for several seasons, however, with decreased yields and greater susceptbillity to disease. The coffee white stem borer is found in Asia, where it is considered one of the most devastating pests to arabica coffee production.

Green Scale (Coccus viridis Green)

Green Scale, also called Coffee Green Scales, is a pale green color with several black spots on its back. Each female lays 50-600 eggs which then hatch within hours (Wintgens, 2009). Like mealybugs, the scale secretes a honeydew that creates a film on the plant leaves. This attracts ants and other insects, and can lead to the growth of a sooty mold that decreases photosynthesis and depreciates the value of the coffee. Control measures are similar to those for mealybugs.

Mealybugs (Planococcus spp.) e.g. Coffee Mealybug (Plannococcus lilacinus Cockerell) and Citrus Mealybug (Planococcus citri Risso

Mealybugs attack arabica and robusta coffee plants, among others. They can attack the plant at any location, including branches, nodes, leaves, roots, and flower clusters. The mealybugs secrete a sticky honeydew that both attracts ants and leads to the formation of a black sooty mold which covers the leaves and may affect photosynthesis. Infestations are sporadic; however, they are more common in plantations with non-uniform or limited shade (Wintgens, 2009). The coffee mealybug has been found in Africa, Australia, Asia, and Central and South America. Mealybugs can be controlled by maintaing shade at 30% for arabica and 20-25% for Rubsta (Wintgens, 2009), controlling ant population, the introduction of parasitic wasps, and the use of proper insecticides.

Nematodes (Meloidogyne incognita, M. javanica, M. caffeicola, M. arenaria, M. hapla, M. exigua)

Nematodes are worm-like organisms that are 0.1-5mm in length. They attack the root system of plants, feeding on the sap. They can form knots in the roots that inhibit the plant from properly feeding. Symptoms of a nematode infestation are galls, splits, scales and decreased mass in the root system, and chlorosis and defoliation in the upper plant. C. canephora is more resistant to nematode infestations, and thus using seedlings engrafted in C. canephora rootstock is a means of limiting outbreaks.

Red Flat Mite (B revipalpus phoenicis Geijskes)

Flat Mite

The red flat mite is a tiny mite (275 microns) and is reddish-orange in color. It is generally found in branches and fruits near the center of the plant. It can be found throughout the year, with populations peaking during dry periods (Moraes et al., 2004). It does not directly harm the plant, but rather transmits viruses to the plant, including the coffee ringspot virus (CoRSV), which in turn causes premature fruit and leaf drop.

Soldier Fly (Stratiomyiid Fly) (Chiromyza vittata Wiedemann)

The Stratiomyiid Fly is found in the Sul de Minas (Southern Minas) coffee region, especially in colder parts of the region (Moraes et al., 2004). The larvae attack the root system during the coffee plant’s initial development, thereby reducing production. These attacks also allow the entry of pathogenic fungi such as Fusarium (Waller et al., 2007). The Stratiomyiid Fly is aptly called the mosca-de-raiz, or root fly, in Portuguese.


Bacterial Blight (Pseudomonas syringae pv garcae)

Bacterial Blight, also called Elgon Die-back, was first identified in Garca, Sao Paulo, Brazil, thus its name “garcae.” It normally occurs in seedling nurseries and affects plant leaves and tissue. Leaves initially appear to be water-soaked, followed by the appearance of necrotic brown lesions surrounded by yellow rings. The leaves eventually dry, curl up, blacken and die; however, they do not fall from the tree (Wintgens, 2009).

Brown Eyespot & Berry Blotch (Cercospora coffeicola)

The cercospora coffeicola fungus may attack both the leaves and the coffee berry. The infected leaves show tan spots with grayish-white centers. On green berries, the lesions are sunken and are brown in color with an ashy center. They are sometimes encircled by a purple “halo,” or tissue that has ripened prematurely due to the infection. In red coffee fruit, the lesions are larger, black in color, and can sometimes penetrate all the way to the seed, causing the pulp to adhere to the parchment (Nelson, 2008). Cercospora causes defoliation as well as damage to the coffee fruit.

Phoma (Phoma costaricensis Echandi)

Phoma is a soil fungus that can attack the coffee leaves and fruit. Coffee leaves attacked by the fungus will develop black or brown spots; coffee fruit will develop black spots while still green/unripe. Climates that are cold, humid, and windy favor phoma attacks, which generally occur after blooming and before fruit ripening. Effects can be mitigated through the use of wind-breaks in areas susceptible to phoma.

Coffee Berry Disease – CBD (Colletotrichum kahawae Waller and Bridge)

Coffee berry disease (CBD) is caused by the fungus Colletotrichum kahawae. CBD was first documented in 1922 in Kenya. It attacks coffee berries at any point in their maturation; however, only symptoms detected on young berries can be clearly diagnosed (Wintgens, 2009). The disease can appear in “active” form and “scab” form. In the “active” form, dark-colored indented spots appear on the coffee bean and are followed by a pale pink crust as the spores develop. The berry is destroyed in a matter of days and reduced to an empty, blackened and dried out pouch. The “scab” form is a much milder attack where several small concave spots form on the berry.

Coffee Rust (Hemileia vastatrix)

Coffee rust is fungus that attacks coffee plants. Its color can range from yellow to orange. First documented in Kenya in 1861, it is now known to be in nearly every coffee-producing region in the world. Spores set in on the underside of leaves and can cause severe defoliation, impaired photosynthesis, and a decrease in crop production. Copper-based chemicals have been somewhat effective in combating coffee rust, as have fungicides such as Triadimefon, Cyproconazole and Hexaconazole. Due to the historical significance of its destruction, much research has been conducted in genetic resistance to coffee leaf rust resulting in the development of such varieties as Catimor, Colombia, Ruiru 11, and Icatu.


What Is a Coffee Bean? The Anatomy of The Coffee Cherry

Where does your coffee come from? You may know that coffee is a plant and recognise that the beans came from a bright red coffee cherry. But what is inside that coffee cherry and what does it mean for your cup?

The different parts of the coffee cherry have an impact on processing method and on your coffee’s final profile. Let’s take a look at the basic anatomy of the coffee cherry to better understand our daily brew.

You may also like From Seed to Cup: How Do Producers Grow Coffee?

A ripe coffee cherry.

Understanding The Coffee Plant

The beans we roast, grind, and brew to make coffee are the seeds of a fruit. The coffee plant produces coffee cherries, and the beans are the seeds inside.

Coffee trees can naturally grow to over 30 ft/9 m. But producers prune and stump plants short to conserve the plants’ energy and to help harvesting. Smaller trees have better yield and quality in a limited space.

Each tree is covered with green, waxy leaves that grow in pairs and coffee cherries grow along its branches. Depending on the variety, it takes three to four years for a coffee plant to produce fruit. The National Coffee Association USA states that the average coffee tree produces 10 lbs of coffee cherry per year, which results in around 2 lbs of green beans.

But there are different varieties of coffee and their beans have many different characteristics. Size, flavor, and disease resistance vary, among other factors.

Learn more in Get to Know The Coffee Plant

Ripe and unripe coffee cherries on a branch.

The Layers of A Coffee Cherry

A coffee cherry’s skin is called the exocarp. It is green until it ripens to a bright red, yellow, orange, or even pink, depending on variety. Green coffee cherries shouldn’t be confused with green coffee beans, which are the unroasted seeds from inside the ripe coffee cherry.

Beneath the cherry skin is a thin layer called the mesocarp, more commonly known as the pulp. Mucilage is the inner layer of the pulp. There’s also a layer of pectin underneath the mucilage.These layers are full of sugars, which are important during the fermentation process.

Then we reach the coffee seeds, which are technically called the endosperm but that we know better as beans. There are usually two beans in a coffee cherry, each of which is covered by a thin epidermis known as the silverskin and a papery hull that we call parchment (technically the endocarp).

The parchment is usually removed in hulling, which is the first step in the dry milling process. Machines or millstones are used to remove any remaining fruit and the dried parchment from the beans. But sometimes green beans are sold with this layer intact as parchment coffee.

The silverskin is a group of sclerenchyma cells that are strongly attached to the beans. These cells form to support and protect the seed. They come off during roasting, when they are known as chaff.

Coffee cherries being depulped.

Sometimes there is just one seed inside a coffee cherry and it is rounder and larger that usual. This happens in about 5% of coffee cherries and the beans are known as peaberries.

Peaberries can be an anatomical variation of the plant or they can form when there is insufficient pollination and one ovule isn’t fertilized. Sometimes the seed simply fails to grow, whether due to genetic causes or environmental conditions. Peaberries usually occur in the parts of the coffee plant that are exposed to severe weather conditions.

There is some debate over whether peaberries have a sweeter and more desirable flavour and they are sometimes sold at a premium. Regardless of whether you think they taste different, their rounded shape allows for better rolling in the roasting drum. So it’s best to keep them apart from other beans to avoid an inconsistent roast.

Dry parchment coffee.

How Anatomy Impacts Your Cup

Coffee cherry skin and fruit is usually discarded, but sometimes they are dried to make cascara for tea and other products.

It is difficult to remove skin and mucilage from coffee beans and different processing methods have developed to do so. Each method has an effect on the flavour and profile of the final coffee.

For example, washed coffee has all of the fruit flesh removed before drying. But in natural coffee the fruit flesh is removed after drying. In honey and pulped natural processing, the skin and sometimes part of the mucilage is removed before drying but the remaining mucilage and other layers are removed after.

Coffee beans being washed.

Leaving the mucilage on results in sweeter coffee with more body. It’s easier to understand why if we compare both dry and wet post-harvest processes.

When coffee cherries are taken from the branch, they start to germinate. This uses the sugar in the seed. Germination stops when drying begins. Natural processed coffees go to the drying terrace earlier than pulped naturals or washed coffees. Because of this, more sugars remain in the naturals and you end up with a sweeter bean.

Washed coffees have clean, more consistent flavours that can show off a lot of acidity. Natural coffees have a lot more fruitiness, sweetness, and body.

The sugars of the mucilage also ferment during both dry and wet processing, and this has an impact on the final flavor. Without careful monitoring and consistent drying, the unpredictable process of fermentation can undesirable qualities.

Find out more in How to Improve Quality When Drying Washed Coffees

Yellow coffee cherries.

Understanding the basics of the coffee cherry can help you better understand production, processing, and roasting. Next time you are choosing between a natural processed and washed coffee, you can have more confidence in knowing what that means and its impact on your cup.

Enjoyed this? You may also like What Is Coffee? A Basic Explanation From Seed to Cup

Written by Verônica Belchior and Hazel Boydell.

Perfect Daily Grind

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How Coffee Works

What we call a coffee bean is actually the seeds of a cherry-like fruit. Coffee trees produce berries, called coffee cherries, that turn bright red when they are ripe and ready to pick. The fruit is found in clusters along the branches of the tree. The skin of a coffee cherry (the exocarp) is thick and bitter. However, the fruit beneath it (the mesocarp) is intensely sweet and has the texture of a grape. Next comes the parenchyma, a slimy, honey-like layer, which helps protect the beans. The beans themselves are covered by a parchment-like envelope called the endocarp. This protects the two, bluish-green coffee beans, which are covered by yet another membrane, called the spermoderm or silver skin.

There is usually one coffee harvest per year. The time varies according to geographic zone, but generally, north of the Equator, harvest takes place between September and March, and south of the equator between April and May. Coffee is generally harvested by hand, either by stripping all of the cherries off the branch at one time or by selective picking. The latter is more expensive and is only used for arabica beans.


Coffee pickers can pick between 100 and 200 pounds (45 and 90 kg) of coffee cherries per day. Only 20 percent of this weight is the actual bean. Photo courtesy

Once picked, the coffee cherries must be processed immediately.

Indoor Coffee Bean Plants: How To Sprout Coffee Seeds

Coffee, how do I love thee, let me count the ways: black drip, drip with cream, latte, cappuccino, macchiato, Turkish, and just plain espresso. Many of us, unless you’re a tea drinker, relish our cup of Joe and some of us — I’m not naming names — rely on a cup of coffee just to stagger out of bed in the morning. For those of us with this shared love, the idea of growing coffee bean plants has exciting possibilities. So how do you germinate coffee tree seeds? Read on to find out how to grow coffee from seed.

How to Grow Coffee from Coffee Plant Seeds

Ideally to grow coffee bean plants, you should start with a freshly picked coffee cherry, but most of us don’t live in a coffee producing country, so this is a bit problematic. If, however, you do happen to reside in a coffee producing country, pick ripe coffee cherries by hand, pulp them, wash, and ferment in a container until the pulp flops off. After this, rewash, discarding any beans that float. Then dry the beans on a mesh screen in open, dry air but not direct sun. The beans should be slightly soft and moist inside and dry on the outside; bite into it to find out.

Since most of us don’t live in a coffee-producing region, green coffee can be bought from a green coffee supplier. Make sure it is from a fresh, recent crop. Although the bean can be germinated for almost four months, surer results are had if fresh. You will probably want to plant many seeds to get one plant; they’re kind of finicky. Fresh seeds germinate in 2 ½ months while older seeds take about 6 months.

How to Sprout Coffee Seeds

Once you have your seeds, soak them in water for 24 hours, drain, and then sow in damp sand or wet vermiculite, or put the seed between moist coffee sacks.

After you germinate coffee tree seeds, remove them from the medium. Place the seed flat side down in a hole made into loam soil with a high humus content to which rotted manure, bone meal or dried blood can be added. You can also try a lightweight, porous soil. Don’t press the soil down. Place ½ inch of mulched grass atop to conserve moisture but remove it when the seed has germinated. Water seeds daily but not too much, just moist.

Once your seeds have germinated, the plant can either be left or transplanted in a porous, low pH soil with a high nitrogen content. Orchid fertilizer may be used sparingly on the coffee plant to maintain the low pH and add minerals.

Place the plant indoors under artificial lighting. Water once a week and allow to drain and again during the week with fertilizer. Keep the soil moist and well drained.

Patience is now a definite virtue. It takes two to three years for the tree to flower and possible cherries to be produced. To encourage flowering, reduce watering at the start of winter for the successive two to three months. Once spring begins, water the plant well to shock it into bloom. Oh, and then you still aren’t done. Once the cherries mature, you can harvest, pulp, ferment, dry roast and then ah, finally enjoy a nice cup of drip.

It takes some painstaking effort to mimic tropical high altitude conditions where coffee bean trees thrive, but well worth the effort even if you don’t get the finest quality java out of your tree. There’s always the corner coffee shop.

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