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Grow Your Own Coffee

Updated on August 2, 2013

Coffee is Lovely in the Container Garden or as a Houseplant!

Coffea arabica, widely regarded as the best species of the coffee producing coffea shrub, is fairly easy to grow as a house plant or in a container garden. It is slow to grow, producing only attractive foliage and flowers for the first several years.

Coaxing your coffee plant into producing actual coffee in a non-tropical climate can be a challenge, but is certainly achievable! The plant itself is quite lovely, and bears flowers with a scent not unlike jasmine, but with overtones of citrus.

Coffea arabica growing in a container
Photo by Joonasl on Wikimedia Commons

Coffea arabica, like other coffea species, is native to tropical and subtropical regions, and requires temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity for successful production of coffee berries, from which the delicious coffee bean is extracted. If you have grown tropical house plants, you can grow coffee!

Caring for a Coffee Plant

Bourbon Coffee growing in Brazil
Bourbon Coffee growing in Brazil

Yellow bourbon coffee, a variety of coffea arabica, flaunts its yellow cherries.
Photo by FCRebelo

Coffee should be grown in a large container, as it has a large, long central root. In areas that approximate its natural tropical environment, it will happily grow outdoors. In most of the United States, though, coffee is best grown in containers that spend part or all of the year indoors.

Coffee grows best when kept between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Coffea arabica should be placed in indirect sunlight or light shade. Think sun-dappled jungle outskirts!

The Evolution of Coffee Postcard

Fill your container with a potting soil that drains quickly. Avoid clay-based soil or most garden dirt, as these will retain too much water. Coffea arabica hates to stand in water, and can drop its leaves and die if this is allowed to happen.

Water regularly, but make sure no water is left standing around the roots. Drainage should be excellent. Even water left in a saucer under your container can cause problems for your coffee plant's roots.

Coffee likes lots of fertilizer, and should be fed once every two weeks through spring and summer using a balanced fertilizer or good, ripe compost. A tablespoon or two of spent coffee grounds, worked into the top inch or two of the soil, may be added for a nitrogen boost in early spring.

Choosing a Space

How Big Will a Coffee Plant Get?

Given a sufficiently large container, coffee plants will grow into trees as tall as 12 feet. They can, however, be maintained very nicely as 2 to 5 foot tree-like shrubs. On many plantations, they are kept short both for the health of the plant and to facilitate harvesting.

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where you can plant your coffee directly outdoors, try to choose a sheltered area near your home. This will provide the light shade enjoyed by coffee plants and keep them a little warmer during the winter months.

How Does Your Coffee Grow?

coffee flowers
coffee flowers

Pretty white coffee flowers bear a sweet aroma with a light citrus twist!
Photo by Marcelo Correa

Have you grown your own coffee plant?

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Coffea Arabica Plants for Home Gardeners

Your coffee plant will take five to seven years to produce coffee, but will look lovely while it is growing. Healthy, green foliage and white flowers with a jasmine-like aroma make your coffee plant an attractive houseplant even before it begins to produce coffee cherries and the all-important bean.

Hirt's Arabica Coffee Bean Plant - 3" pot - Grow & Brew Your Own Coffee Beans
Hirt's Arabica Coffee Bean Plant - 3" pot - Grow & Brew Your Own Coffee Beans

Transplant your coffee plant right away! You can start with a 2 to 5 gallon container, but be prepared to repot your coffee plant several times as it grows. Make sure your container allows excellent drainage, and choose a potting soil that drains quickly. Water your coffee plant regularly to keep the soil moist but not wet, provide indirect light and keep your plant warm, and enjoy all the rewards of this wonderful plant!


Watch the Pros - Growing Organic Coffee - Sanora Vida

As you watch this young coffee tree being planted, notice its surroundings! This is exactly the kind of placement coffea arabica loves! It gets sun, but is surrounded by enough other trees and shrubs to provide intermittent shade as the sun moves across the sky. Whether you grow your coffee plant indoors or out, your goal should be to duplicate this soft light and partial shade,

Have you grown coffee? Thinking of trying it? Have a hint or a question? Here's the spot to talk about it... pull up a chair and pour yourself a cup!

Coffee Talk - Comments welcome!

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    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 4 years ago

      @blestman lm: That's exactly the right attitude with which to approach home-grown coffee! It's a great conversation piece, and if it produces flowers and beans after a few years, that's a bonus :)

    • blestman lm profile image

      blestman lm 4 years ago

      Very good lens. Never thought about growing my own. It would be a great conversation piece. Thanks

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 5 years ago

      @othellos: You'll never know if you don't try ;) Even if your coffee doesn't produce beans, or even flower, it's still a lovely houseplant.

    • profile image

      othellos 5 years ago

      Very informative lens. I'll give it a try but I doubt it to get any coffee beans with Mediterranean weather...

    • JackNimble profile image

      JackNimble 5 years ago

      so cool. I want to grow my own coffee!

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 5 years ago from Ireland

      Would love to grow my own coffee - too much rain and not enough sun here in Ireland!

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 5 years ago

      @EMangl: But oh, what an espresso it would be...

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 5 years ago

      would take way too long to harvest my first espresso

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 5 years ago

      The closest thing I drink to coffee is French Vanilla Cappucino :)

    • Escapes2 profile image

      Escapes2 5 years ago

      I would love to give growing my own coffee a try!

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 5 years ago

      @Sylvestermouse: If you have the patience for it, coffee makes a great houseplant. I think the key is enjoying it for the foliage and scented flowers, and considering the eventual coffee beans as a bonus ;)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

      OH, I would love to grow my own coffee!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have not thought of growing my own coffee, not sure that we are in a good zone for them. Its a great idea to do though. :)