How Do Coffee Plants Grow?

We’ve been talking a lot about the differences in coffee and coffee growing regions lately (see our recent articles on Kona coffees and Guatemalan coffees), but what about growing the coffee itself?

A coffee grower picks coffee fruits in a plantation near Montenegro

It’s one thing to know about the area and the conditions, but what if you wanted to grow a coffee plant yourself?  Well, you can follow instructions to grow coffee plants in your home.

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But, instead, we are going to focus on how the current coffee farmers grow their own harvests.

As many of you know by now, a coffee bean is actually the seed inside a coffee cherry (or a coffee berry, by some).  It’s just when the cherry is picked and processed and the coffee seed gets roasted that it starts to become the coffee bean that you are used to seeing.

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No, you cannot use a roasted coffee bean to grow your own coffee plant, although that would be cool and convenient.  And, no, if you have green coffee beans that have not been cooked, they still will not grow because they are missing the berry meat that provides the proper nutrients for the plant to grow.

The coffee farmers plant the coffee berries in shaded areas and have them watered frequently.  Generally coffee plants are grown in tropical regions with decent rain and without wild temperature fluctuations or cold weather, so this is perfect for the coffee plant as it starts to grow.

Coffee plants also require shade, as they can dry out if they were in direct sunlight for even a few hours.  This is why they are often inter-planted with other larger trees, or grown in cloudy areas.

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The coffee trees actually take quite some time to mature and bear coffee cherries.  This period of time varies depending upon whether they are Arabica or Robusta, but the coffee trees typically take 3 or 4 years before they mature.

A mature coffee tree is generally pruned by farmers to be between 5 and 7 feet tall, but can reach heights of 16 feet tall if left to grow.

Once the coffee plants mature, they begin to flower.  Arabica trees self-pollinate, which helps with uniformity of flavor, but this makes them more susceptible to disease as well.

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Once the flowers are pollinated, they then begin to bear fruit.

The coffee cherries go through a ripening process from not ripe to rotten in about 5 months, depending on the length of the dry season, and whether the plant is Arabica or Robusta.

Coffee trees only yield 1 crop per year during their dry season.  The average coffee tree will grow coffee cherries for approximately 15 years.

And, that’s the first step in the process to us getting our delicious coffee to you.  Let us know if you guys have any additional questions.  We love to hear from you guys here and on Facebook and Instagram.

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