How to Seed Coffee Plants

Overview

Coffee trees are tropical shrubs that can grow as high as 40 feet if left to their own devices. Although the best way to grow coffee from seed is to simply plant fresh coffee fruit, most people don't have access to seeds of that freshness. A good alternative is to try and germinate unroasted coffee beans sold for home roasting. Although many of those beans may not be viable, some will likely still have the embryo attached. The difficulty with growing coffee from seed is that it often takes 60 days to get from germination to a coffee tree sprout. You must take care to give the germinating seed enough water without overwatering to avoid rot in the seed.

Step 1

Place 20 unroasted, green coffee beans in a shallow pan with about 1 inch of water. In 12 to 24 hours, you should see a tiny white bump on the end of between five and eight beans. This white bump is the embryo.

Step 2

Plant the germinated seeds 1 1/2 inch deep in a very deep peat pot filled with vermiculite. The seed will need to put down a deep tap root, so germination trays will not work.

Step 3

Cover the pot with plastic wrap or a plastic growing tent to prevent moisture loss.

Step 4

Water the germinating seed in the peat pot daily. Keep the vermiculite moist but not soggy. The exact amount of water will depend on the ambient humidity in your area.

Step 5

Wait around 2 months. After 2 months, you will see a tiny gooseneck poking out of the soil.

Step 6

Continue to keep the medium moist until you get a single stalk with a green coffee bean on top. This will happen after 3 or 4 months of growing.

Step 7

Start to move the coffee plant into the sun when the first primary lily pad-shaped leaves appear. Begin giving your plant 3 or 4 hours of sun each day. Increase the amount of sun by 1 hour a day until your coffee plant is accustomed to full sun.

Step 8

Repot the plant into its final pot after the adult leaves form. This usually happens around 9 months after first germination.

Tips and Warnings

  • Because of the long period between germination and sprouting, most of your seeds will likely rot in the sprouting medium.

Things You'll Need

  • 20 green, unroasted coffee beans
  • Shallow pan
  • Water
  • Large peat pots, 12 inches recommended
  • Vermiculite
  • Plastic wrap or plant tents
  • Plant pot

References

  • Talk About Coffee: Growing Your Own Coffee at Home
  • Sweet Marias: Growing Coffee Arabica at Home
  • Coffeesearch.org: Growing Coffee Beans at Home

Who Can Help

  • The Garden Helper: Grow Your Own Coffee Plant!
  • Rainforest Seed Co.: How to Grow a Coffee Plant
Keywords: coffee propagation, coffee growing, coffee cultivation

About this Author

Christopher Earle is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colo. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, The Associated Press, the Boeing Company, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, Active Voice, RAHCO International and Umax Data Systems. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota.