When you saw a coffee plant in your area for the first time, you must have been wondering what this tropical plant is looking for in Germany. Perhaps, however, you immediately fell in love with growing such a decorative plant yourself. Here you can read how it works.

Brief botany of the coffee plant

First of all: There is not one coffee plant, but botanically speaking, there are around 124 coffee plants. So many species of the plant genus Coffea are currently known. “Culinary”, there are only a few coffee plants, only a few types of Coffea store enough caffeine in the beans to make coffee from them: Only nine types of Coffea are cultivated worldwide or regionally for the production of coffee and for brewing coffee used.

Coffee plants in Germany

There are mainly two types of coffee on the German market: Coffea arabica, from which Arabica coffee (also known as mountain coffee or Java coffee) is made. It is the plant that has the greatest economic importance in the entire coffee genre. The bushes or small trees of the Coffea arabica grow up to 5 meters high on a coffee plantation, but in your pot they will remain much smaller. The plants develop beautifully glossy, dark green leaves that grow in pairs on their stems.

A special variety of Coffea arabica is grown in Hawaii: Kona coffee, named after its growing area in the Kona district on the west coast of Hawaii. Kona coffee is one of the most valuable types of coffee in the world, which exudes an extraordinary, slightly sweet scent and is a coveted rarity.

The second variety commonly used in coffee blends comes from Coffea canephora, formerly also known as Coffea robusta. The coffee made from this plant is still called “Robusta”. The plant, also known as lowland coffee, was discovered over 100 years ago in Africa, where it grows as a shrub or tree up to eight meters high. However, the plants on the coffee plantation are grown smaller in order to be able to harvest better. In your living room, they will probably grow a little more modestly. The Coffea Canephora develops somewhat larger or longer leaves than the Arabica, which are a little lighter and have a more clearly wavy edge than the leaves of the Arabica.

In times of global trade, you might come across other types of coffee, for example the Coffea liberica, which z. B. is grown in Liberia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia. This coffea plant is an extremely sturdy shrub that can reach heights of up to 20 meters. It is known to be robust and resilient and is said to have a longer lifespan than Arabica or Robusta, but with its significantly lighter leaves and somewhat “messy” growth form, it does not have the elegance of Arabica or Robusta plants.

Coffea liberica var. Dewevrei or Excelsa coffee is a natural variant of the Coffea liberica plant, which also resembles it in terms of leaves and growth. However, it can thrive better on drier soils and is said to have the strongest growth of all Coffea varieties.

The Coffea stenophylla develops a very appealing appearance, actually a West African endemic, which has become quite widespread because of the unique mildness of the Stenophylla coffee. Stenophylla are usually only grown by patient coffee lovers for their own use, because it only bears fruit for the first time after about 8 years. It is cultivated z. B. in Sierra Leone, the “Highland Coffee” obtained here is famous for its full-bodied taste with a slight hint of chocolate. The up to 3 meters high, particularly small-leaved plant is also valued for its appearance. B. gladly planted as an ornamental and connoisseur plant in private gardens.

Coffee plant or coffee seeds?

First you can order coffee seeds on the Internet, the company Andreas Fái-Pozsár from 93055 Regensburg sells z. B. at www.magicgardenseeds.de seeds of Coffea arabica, Coffea arabica of the special variety “Kona” and Coffea canephora.

If you use seeds specially produced for growing coffee plants, you are, so to speak, “on the safe side”. Because you receive tested seeds of non-seed varieties, at magicgardenseeds z. B. from breeds that manage without hybrid breeding and without the use of genetic engineering. This company mainly deals with old varieties, the good taste of these original varieties is decisive. By the way, when you order such original coffee seeds, you are also doing something to preserve biodiversity.

But there are a few other ways to get to your coffee plant. All you need is a few coffee beans. However, not from the storage container of your brewing machine, but rather unroasted coffee beans. You can get such unroasted coffee beans in different ways:

  • You are looking for a grocery store with Turkish or Mediterranean specialties in the next big city and ask for green coffee.
  • Green coffee is also very often offered in export shops.
  • There are also sometimes used coffee sacks for decoration purposes, in these you will usually find some raw coffee beans.
  • You go to the nearest small private roastery in your area and ask for a few untreated beans.
  • You order the green coffee on the Internet, z. B. at Quijote Kaffee OHG from 20539 Hamburg.
  • Here you can get green coffee from Brazil, Central America, South America, Africa and Arabia, also in smaller quantities, at quijote-kaffee.de/shop/.
  • The advantage: If you plan to roast your own beans later, you can order this coffee already roasted and try it.

Impatient natures do not order seeds or beans, but simply buy a coffee plant. This is offered in some garden centers, can sometimes be found as a special offer at a discount store, and can of course also be ordered on the Internet.

Tip: Do not order coffee plants if it is very cold outside. Coffee plants do not like it at all when they have to freeze during shipping and are happy to acknowledge such treatment with off-color shoots.

Grow coffee plants from seeds

If you have procured your coffee beans, coffee seeds or coffee cherries, it is first of all important that you do not leave them lying around for a long time – coffee seeds can only germinate for a very short time. How to proceed:

  • If the coffee beans are still in their somewhat harder shell, crack them open.
  • Then the silver membrane surrounding the seed has to be carefully removed.
  • These seeds are now pre-soaked in warm water for a few hours.
  • To keep the water warm, it is best to put the whole thing in a thermos flask.
  • In the meantime you are preparing pots with potting soil, for example a mixture of soil and sand.
  • It is best to put a bean in each pot so that you don’t have to untangle the fine roots later.
  • The beans are only pressed onto the ground without covering them with soil.
  • It is important to place the pots in a warm, humid environment.
  • Coffee seeds germinate best at temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees.
  • The earth must be kept moist throughout without waterlogging.
  • The humidity around the potty can be increased with a plastic hood.
  • In this case, however, you should ventilate daily so that no mold forms.
  • Now you have to wait up to two months, as long as it can take until the seedlings show up.

Pull the coffee plant from cuttings

If you know someone who has already grown a coffee plant, you can ask that person for a cutting. To grow new coffee plants, you need head cuttings, i.e. a section of the tip of a shoot and a few leaves should be attached.

You can put this head cutting directly into a pot of soil. Then place it in a location with a temperature of at least 25 degrees and look after it like a young coffee plant.

Caring for the coffee plants

The young coffee plants are moved to a larger pot when their roots are strong enough. This is usually the case when the plant has developed the second pair of leaves and this is already quite stable.

This pot should contain a loose substrate that is well moisturized. B. loosen the earth with peat substitute. The coffee plant likes a slightly acidic soil, which you can quickly create by adding a little lemon juice to the irrigation water every now and then.

This irrigation water should be soft, e.g. B. Rainwater. All coffeas like high humidity, which you can only increase near the plant by placing a bowl of water next to it. As a tropical plant, the coffee plant is also happy about water on the leaves. It is best to pamper them daily with water from the spray bottle. Warm summer rain, in which you put your coffee plant out, is just as suitable.

Otherwise, the coffee plant prefers to stay in the room, at temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees. It needs a bright location, light penumbra would be perfect, but does not want to burn in the blazing midday sun or be too close to other plants. If you want to put the coffee in the garden, you should slowly accustom the plant to direct sunlight. The leaves burn pretty quickly, so a parasol should always be on hand at the beginning of the summer season.

In the summer months, your coffee then needs fertilizer once a month, in liquid form or as a fertilizer stick, in half the concentration. That is actually all that the coffee plant needs to thrive.

Hibernate coffee plants

Coffee bushes on the plantation take a break between October and March, which you should also allow them as indoor plants. The coffee plants should be kept at no more than about 15 degrees during this time, even in a light location. It doesn’t have to be exactly 15 degrees, but the coffee plant will probably not tolerate significantly colder temperatures or drafts.

It now needs less water, but still needs a fairly high level of humidity, which in case of doubt should be created with a perforated plastic hood rather than bringing mold into the apartment. A little fertilizer every two months is perfectly fine in winter.

If you have no way of providing your coffee plant with such winter quarters, you can continue to keep it at 20 degrees. Then it is treated as normal as in summer, but with regard to flowering and fruiting it may be even slower than it is anyway:

Coffee plants need as much patience as good coffee

Your self-grown coffee plant will not please you with frenzied growth even after its slow germination. The flowering period does not begin for a few years. If your plant doesn’t really feel like it, you can wait 5 years for the snow-white flowers. You may be able to help with a slight increase in the amount of fertilizer. A drier position for about two weeks with subsequent vigorous watering should also stimulate the flowering.

If you want these flowers to develop red berry fruits, i.e. coffee cherries in which coffee beans ripen, the flowers must be pollinated. If you help here with a brush, you can be sure that fertilization will be even. Then your first coffee cherries will grow … which will also need patience again. The green berries need between 8 and 12 months until they have turned a nice red color and the harvest is due.

If the first yield is not worth roasting, you can use these beans as new seeds, so you can slowly build up a local coffee plantation.

Harvesting your own coffee in Germany – as unbelievable as it sounds, it is possible. If you buy some Indonesian crawling cats and feed them with your coffee beans, you can even roast the most expensive and rarest type of coffee in the world yourself.

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