Plants

Coffee Plant Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Coffea Arabica”

Read our guide to Coffee Plant for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Coffea Arabica”

Coffea Arabica, also known as the Coffee plant, is a species of flowering plants in the Coffea genus. Coffee plants are native to tropical Asia and regions of southern and tropical Africa. They belong to the Rubiaceae family.

Their fruits were and still are very appealing to many animals. In the 1500s, Coffee plants were firstly discovered by a goat herder in Ethiopia. After he saw his goats feasting on coffee fruits, he noticed a radical change in their behavior: they became full of energy and stayed up all night.

Without knowing what to do with his findings, the herder humbly shared them with local monks. Once they prepared some coffee drinks, the monks realized that they could pray all night long. Pretty interesting, huh?

Many people prefer Arabica coffee beans in their morning coffee due to their strong effect and sweet taste. Besides this common association, coffee beans have a lot of health and beauty benefits. They are also used as an ingredient in many culinary recipes, especially yummy desserts like Tiramisu or ice cream.

About Coffea Arabica a.k.a Coffee Plant

  • Coffee trees were first discovered in Kaffa, a former Ethiopian province. This is the place where Coffee plants got their name.
  • Although many of us are coffee lovers, some people go beyond that. Beethoven was such a big fan of coffee that he would count exactly 60 beans per cup before making it.
  • Coffee beans serve as an excellent natural treatment for dark circles and cellulite reduction, hair growth stimulator, and skin exfoliator. They can also be used as a cleaning product for your body or home.
  • Most growers prefer to include coffee beans in other plants’ growth, such as mushrooms or carrots. They are popular in the gardening world because they repel insects, pests, and feline intruders.
  • Nowadays, coffee plants are one of the most valuable and widely traded crops around the world. They are an important export product for many countries.
  • Hawaii is the only region in the United States that is suitable for growing coffee plants. It was known for its coffee production even before it became a state.
  • Coffee plants do well in a slightly warm location where they can receive bright and indirect light. When it comes to planting, they prefer to grow in slightly acidic soil.
  • During their growing season in spring, they will benefit from a weak liquid fertilizer once a two or three weeks. Once the winter has settled in, you should feed your plant monthly.
  • The caffeine in coffee beans works as a natural defense mechanism against wildlife. Make sure you keep your coffee plant in a place where it is out of your pets’ reach. That’s going to be a bit difficult because we all know that cats can get anywhere.
The Coffee plant or Coffee tree
The Coffee plant or Coffee tree

Coffee Plant Features: An Overview

  • Coffea genus includes over 120 species that are grown from seed. The most popular cultivars are Arabica (C. Arabica) with about 60-80% of coffee production around the world and Robusta (C. Canephora) which accounts only for 20-40%.
  • Coffee plants have a high lifespan, with some specimens that have lived for 100 years. However, they are at their best productive period in their 7 to 20 years of age.
  • Coffea Arabica plants are shrubs or small trees that can grow more than 30 feet (10 m) tall in their natural habitat.
  • These woody evergreen plants have shiny, dark-green leaves with ruffled margins that appear on willowy stems.
  • After three to four years from planting, coffee plants exhibit white, star-shaped bloomings. These delicate flowers have a nice and sweet fragrance.
  • Coffee plants need about five years to reach their full potential. Their blooms are followed by green, red, or yellow fruits called cherries that change their color to black-ish red when ripen.
  • Their cherries take about 9 months to ripen. In the meantime, growers are not able to use any seeds for consuming.
  • Each fruit produces two seeds which are what we otherwise know today as coffee beans. Like their seeds, the fruits also contain a large amount of caffeine.
  • Some specimens may produce fruits with one seed only. These seeds are usually called peaberries and they are smaller and rounder than a regular coffee bean.
Harvesting the berries from a coffee plant
Harvesting the berries from a coffee plant

Growing Coffee Plants

If you want to bring one of these mesmerizing and highly scented plants into your home or garden, there is no better choice to make. They are suitable for both indoor and outdoor growing as long as you manage to provide them with environmental conditions that are similar to their natural habitat. And we can tell you for sure that is not as difficult as it sounds!

Coffee plants can be found growing in the forest, so they do not appreciate a lot of bright and direct light. They can withstand dappled to full sunlight only if you live in regions with cool summers. When exposed to harsh light, their leaves will start to get brown and die off.

These plants do well in a location where they can receive plenty of bright, but indirect light. Make sure you place them near a window or in a bright corner to protect them from too much sunlight. When growing them outdoors, it’s best to plant them in a shaded spot that can provide them with some morning sun exposure.

Coffea Arabica
Coffea Arabica

Coffee plants prefer the slightly warm conditions found in the tropical zones with mid-elevation mountains. The optimal temperatures for healthy growth are somewhere between 65 and 75 °F (18-24 °C). During the autumn and winter, these plants can tolerate cooler temperatures, but they will not get along with frost at all.

If you live in a region with hot climates and you grow these plants for their beans, it is better to keep them away from higher temperatures. Extreme temperatures and full sun will boost the growth of coffee plants. Although that might sound appealing, it’s not recommended because their fruits have more flavor if they ripen at a slow pace.

Repotting Coffee Plants

Coffee plants can grow in slightly acidic to neutral soil, but the ideal soil pH is anything between 6 and 6.5. They do best in a peat-based and well-draining potting soil that is rich in organic matter. If your coffee plant does not thrive in its current potting mix, you can always add more organic matter, such as peat moss.

They need regular repotting every spring. Keep in mind that their pot should have several holes at the bottom to improve drainage. Look for a container that is a bit larger than the current one, fill it with suitable potting soil, and transplant the plant carefully. If you want to maintain a certain size of your coffee plant, the foliage can be pruned anytime you feel like doing it. You can also prune the roots to keep it in the same pot for a longer time.

Coffee plants will sometimes be bothered by pests like aphids, mealybugs, and mites. These intruders will show their presence through clumps of white powdery residue, tiny webs, or just visible insects on the plant. If you notice any sign of infestation, you can treat your plant with a cotton pad dipped in rubbing alcohol. When this method is not enough, you need to look for more serious chemicals like insecticides or pesticides.

Live Arabica Coffee Plant, From Amazon

Watering Coffee Plants

If you water these plants properly, they will grow healthy and happy and they’ll quickly become great companions to your other flowers, trees, and shrubs. Coffee plants are water-lovers so they need both regular and abundant watering. Be careful though, as too much watering can cause your plant to root rot and die off with time. But finding the perfect balance isn’t difficult at all! In fact, it is quite easy once you understand your plant’s demands.

The potting soil should be constantly damp, but coffee plants will not appreciate waterlogging or soggy conditions. Make sure you always check the soil in-between waterings and do not allow it to dry out completely. You can use the ‘soak and dry’ technique which consists of watering your coffee plants when you notice that the top few inches of soil are dry.

Coffee plants thrive in humid environments. In their natural habitat, they receive plenty of rain and fog, so they are used to humidity levels that are higher than 50%. If the air around your plant is too dry, you can mist your plant daily to maintain the ideal humidity.

Live Coffee Plant, From Amazon

Propagating Coffee Plant

Coffee plants can be easily propagated using fresh seeds or those from an existing plant. But their seeds will take a long time to germinate, as these plants grow relatively slow. The good news is that you can propagate them faster through stem cuttings. This technique will allow you to add more coffee plants to your garden or to gift them to your caffeine-loving friends.

The cuttings respond well to propagation when they are taken in early summer. They should be about 8 to 10 inches (20-25 cm) long and contain only a pair of upper leaves. Fill a pot with fresh potting mix, plant your cuttings, and keep the soil slightly damp. You will know that a healthy root system has developed when you can feel some resistance while pulling the stem.

In Conclusion

Now that you know where your daily coffee comes from, you must add these one or more of these plants to your collection. Coffee plants are pretty easy to grow and make for great lifetime companions due to their long lives. If proper care is given, they can enhance their surroundings with their strong and lovely fragrance.

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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