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Coffee Planting

By Barbara Fahs ; Updated September 21, 2017

Almost everyone enjoys a cup of coffee. Coffee fans in tropical climates at higher elevations with a fair amount of rain can have success growing coffee similar to some of the fine coffees of the world—Jamaican, Kona, Ethiopian, Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Brazilian and many other varieties. Most commercially available coffees are from the bean of Coffea arabica. When the beans drop to the ground, you can find many plants, which you can transplant to expand your coffee-growing venture.

Planting Coffee

Select a growing site that has good, rich soil that is deep and well drained because the coffee tree has a taproot that extends far into the ground. If your soil is hard, break it up and amend it with compost by digging one 2-gal. bucketful into each planting hole.

Clear the planting area by cutting all weeds and small trees that might be in the way. You can leave larger trees. Plan ahead—it’s wise to plant a cover crop of fava beans, vetch or other “green manure” several months before you plant your coffee.

Start green coffee beans in a greenhouse or warm outdoor area that receives filtered sun. If you use flats, fill them with standard potting soil and then poke holes with a pencil or screwdriver about 1-inch apart and 1-inch deep, and then drop one coffee bean into each hole. Water well and keep the flat moist until the plants are 1- to 2-inches tall. Then water when the soil dries out.

Plow your cover crop into the soil when your young coffee plants are 4- to 5-inches tall. Create rows in which to plant your young coffee. Leave approximately 9 feet between rows and then plant your coffee 9-feet apart. Using this spacing, you will be able to plant 1,000 coffee trees in a 2.5-acre area.

Dig holes for your young plants two months before you plant them. Make your holes about 20-inches wide and 20-inches deep.

Cover the soil surface with mulch to prevent it from eroding due to rain. Another trick that coffee growers use is to plant a cover crop of legumes throughout the planting area, leaving the area immediately surrounding the planting holes open for the coffee trees.

Remove the lower leaves from each of your coffee seedlings. Carefully remove them from the flat using a trowel or weeding tool and discard any weak or diseased plants.

Fill in your planting holes with the soil you dug out a few days before you plant. Make one small hole in each planting area. Plant 6- to 7-month-old seedlings during your rainy season on a cloudy day. Do not twist the taproot when you place your small trees in their holes. Leave the plant’s crown above the soil surface and then pack the soil around the plant’s base. Protect newly planted coffee trees from sun for the first few days—tropical growers simply prop up a palm frond for this.


Things You Will Need

  • Compost
  • Nursery pots or flats with drainage holes
  • Standard potting soil
  • Shovel
  • Trowel or weeding tool


  • Forested areas are a good location for growing coffee because the large trees will shed some shade, which will protect the coffee plants from intense tropical sun.

About the Author


Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.