Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Making More Coffee Trees

Currently I have several dozen (perhaps I'm really up into the hundreds by now) coffee trees on the farm, and I'm always adding a few more as I open space for them. So I have to make new trees. I've started some from seed, but others I've pulled up from under existing trees. Either way, it works fine for creating new baby trees. 

These are coffee beans from one of my trees. 

I'll plant these about 1/2" below the soil surface. They will sprout in anywhere from several weeks to a few months. I've had some take 6 months to germinate. I suppose temperature has a significant bearing on the germination speed. And I have discovered that fresh seeds germinate faster than older seeds.  But all in all, one needs patience when trying to germinate coffee beans. 

These are young trees I pulled up from beneath existing coffee trees. 
They are surprisingly tough plants. I just yank them up and plant them into potting soil. I let them get a bit bigger and establish a root ball before they get planted out to their permanent location. 

This seedling is ready for planting. It's established a nice rootball. I carefully move the seedling into the hole so that I don't lose the soil ball nor break the young roots. 

I've learned that there are all sorts of theories on how best to plant young coffee trees into the ground. Upright. On a slant. On their side. I really don't know if any of it makes any difference. I've always planted my coffee trees like any other tree seedling. They do just fine. 
Above -- planting on a slant. I've seen this done, but I don't do it. Mine go in upright and straight. 

Some of my coffee is in deep shade, some in semi shade, others in sun. The sun trees are the most compact and best bloomers, but the others also survive and produce. It's a good crop for utilizing shady ground that isn't being used. Not much edible likes to grow in shade. Coffee will grow in semi or full shade, although the trees will be stretchy and not compact, nor as productive as sun grown trees. But since I'm not looking for efficient production, that's just fine with me.
Above are flowers on my deep shade coffee. It's just starting to bloom again for the second time this year. 

The coffee from plants grown in deep shade tastes different from sun grown. People tell me that the shade town has more caffeine, but I don't know if that's true. Personally I think that the semi-shade trees produce the nicest coffee, but again, that may be just a mental perception that isn't true. Who knows. 


  1. I love coffee. It doesn't love me. Used to be a big coffee drinker and bought some K'au coffee when we were there last. A nice vendor just off the main road near South Point Road. If we ever get to HA I would like, in my fantasy world, to grow coffee. Wouldn't it be fun to roast one's one and have a drink? But unfortunately as I grow older I find that coffee gives me a very bad headache so it is getting added to the ever growing list of things I can't ingest. Decaffeinated coffee is better but not headache proof 100%. So sad. Getting old is the worst in some respects.

    1. I'm not a big coffee drinker either. But I do enjoy a warmed cup of milk with a splash of coffee for flavor.

    2. Ah yes, cafe au lait. That would be my drink, too. Once a month. Decaf. Yum.

  2. I had several coffee bushes on Maui, which sprouted from green beans the previous owner had tossed out as "fertilizer" for his papaya trees. A fellow we hired to "mow" [stringtrimmer] the little lawn took upon himself to whack the bushes to the ground, but others sprouted, and we finally had a decent crop just as we were moving out. I think the aphids loved those bushes more than any other plant there, except hibiscus, which were edited out for more papaya. Coffee trees are very ornamental in addition to providing java. Just don't roast those beans indoors (too much smoke!). I had a teeny coffee plant indoors for two years, but it was pathetic. Lucky you to have so many trees!

    1. Aphids....oh I'll have to watch. I haven't seen them yet, but we do have the stem borer and bean borer here.

      Roasting and smoke, you bet. The first time I saw coffee roasted in a frying pan, I almost keeled over from all the smoke. It's something best done outdoors.

  3. Fineartgourds wrote :

    In Central America they plant what they call "nurse trees" out among the coffee. I never could understand what they were getting at; the trees weren't large, they were widely scattered, and the shade moved with the sun. Perhaps they had noticed a better flavor result with some cover, too? Or maybe just recieved wisdom and no one argues with Grandpa.

  4. Hulahula asked via email: what kind of coffee do I grow?

    I mostly have a Guatemalan type called locally Kona Typica. I also got beans that I grew out from Guatemalan trees growing on the Ka'u coffee farms. Here and there I have a smattering of yellow caturra