How to Grow Your Own Coffee Plants
Have you ever wondered what a freshly harvested cup of coffee taste like?
The coffee bean tree is a particular variety of a tropical evergreen shrub. The leaves are dark and shiny green and the flowers are white and fragrant providing a beautiful ornamental while patiently waiting for the tree or plant(s) to produce coffee beans. Coffee was traditionally grown in the shade of other trees, such as evergreen shrubs and oak trees that afix nitrogen in the soil.
During the 1970s, many farmers decided to grow them in rows under full sun for a quicker harvest. They had to increase the applications of fertilizer and pesticides to yield the highest amount. It remains that the traditionally grown method produces a superior quality of coffee. Sun cultivation causes numerous environmental disruptions such as pesticide pollution, soil and water degradation and deforestation.
How soon before the beans mature for harvesting?
A yield of coffee beans is possible after four years, however, generally the full yield begins at six years. Prime production lasts for about ten years but the life of the plants may last for as long as sixty years. The length of time for the berries to ripen is six to nine months. Five to ten percent of the berries contain only one seed-like bean and the rest contain two.
Three fourths of the coffee grown on the global scale is C. arabica and the second most popularly cultivated is robusta, C. canephora, which is less flavorful and inclined toward acidity. In many commercial blends, robusta is used as an inexpensive arabica, however, the better strains of the robusta species is used in some espresso blends for the full-bodied taste since it contains about 45% more caffeine than arabica.
How high do coffee plants grow?
Without pruning, the plants can grow to a height of 16 to 40 feet tall, depending on weather conditions and variety. Most cultivators will maintain them at a height of six feet to obtain the best yields and to have easier access during harvest time.
What are the growing conditions required for coffee plants to produce a good harvest?
Coffee plants can be grown indoors and placed outside during the summer. The best temperature range for coffee plants is between 65F to 75F degrees. They are thirsty plants that need much water or rainfall to grow. Beginning in the fourth year, they need intermittent sunshine between heavy watering for the beans to mature.
What type of soil do coffee plants grow best in?
Drainage is the most important factor to consider because the plants are not very particular about the soil itself. Coffee trees can be grown indoors as a potted plant and transferred to the outside during the summer months. Indirect or filtered sunlight with nighttime temperatures between 60 to 65F and day temperatures of at least 70F. The soil should be kept moist but not soggy using a good soil that drains quickly.
How often do coffee plants require a feeding of fertilizer and what kind?
They will eventually produce a yield of beans without any fertilizer, however for better results and more beans, fertilize the plants through the months of March to October (the growing season) once every two weeks. From November through February (the dormant season) fertilize once a month or every four weeks. The fertilizer should be an all purpose 10-10-10.
Depending on the space in the planter for the roots to grow, coffee plants can grow up to ten feet high. If that is too tall for your indoor environment, you can prune them back. Pinching off the ends of the branches periodically will also make your plant bushier.
When are the coffee beans ready to be harvested?
The fruits on the plant do not all ripen at the same time. They appear as berries that are red in color and contain two beans inside that are similar to seeds that are surrounded by a sweet pulp. The berries that are green should remain on the plant to continue ripening because they don't ripen after they are picked. The beans are fermented to separate the pulp then washed in water to remove the residue left from fermentation. They are placed in a sunny location to dry with occasional stirring.
Do freshly harvested coffee beans have to be roasted?
The varieties differ in density and moisture which effects their roasting rates. The starches in the beans are broken down causing a caramelization of simple sugars that turns them brown. Since they contain sucrose, the longer or darker they're roasted the less sucrose they contain. The flavor is changed caused by the weakening of aromatic oils and acids during the roasting process.
When 400F has been reached, other oils begin to develop such as caffeol at 392F which contributes the most to the aroma and flavor.
The labeling depends on their color; light, medium light, medium, medium dark, dark or very dark. The color determines the relative degree of roast which effects the flavor. Darker is considered a bolder flavor with the increased carmelization and decreased fiber, while lighter roasting is perceived stronger due to the oils and acids yet remaining in the beans.
There exist roasters on the market that are designed for this purpose for the home, however you can roast the beans in the oven as well. Place them in a metal colander, vegetable steamer or steel strainer and set it in a 250F preheated oven for seven minutes. Increase the temperature to 450F and after about ten minutes they will begin to crackle. Mix them around a bit to assure an even roast.
Check on the coffee beans every two minutes until their color is slightly lighter than the color you have in mind. The cooling process darkens them still a bit more because they continue to roast. After they have cooled, either store them or grind and brew to consume the freshest coffee ever.
How is caffeine drawn from coffee beans to make decaf?
Most methods of removing caffeine involve either soaking them in hot water, or steaming them. A solvent is added to dissolve the oils that contain caffeine. One method used soaks unripe coffee beans in compressed carbon dioxide (CO2) to extract the caffeine. The extracted caffeine is generally sold to the pharmaceutical industry.
How should coffee beans be stored after roasted?
To preserve the quality of the flavor, roasted coffee beans must be kept in a sealed container and stored in a cool, dry place away from light. Vacuum packaging removes 99% of air which allows it to be stored for an indefinite period of time.
The differences in aroma, body, acidity and flavor can usually be distinquished from the beans grown in different countries and regions. Although, taste characteristics depend on the variety of species and the processing as well as the region. The variety of coffees are known by the region where they are grown, such as Columbian, Java and Kona.
What makes espresso different from regular coffee?
Hot pressurized and vaporized water is forced through brewing the grounds into coffee resulting in a concentration that is 10 to 15 times the quantity of coffee to water. This method produces a complex physical and chemical composition having a reddish-brown foam called crema, that floats on the top.
Coffee can also be brewed using cold water that reduces the acidity level compared to hot-brewing methods. Coarsely ground beans are steeped in cold water for several hours, then filtered.
National Coffee Day in the United States is celebrated on September 29. In 2004, Coffee was the top agricultural export for 12 countries.