Encyclopedia of Houseplants

How to Grow Your Own Coffee Plant Indoors

updated Jun 5, 2020
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Coffee plant leaves
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If you drink coffee (and probably even if you don’t), you’ve seen the fruit of the coffee plant. It’s what’s roasted and turned into coffee beans, which are in turn ground up to brew coffee. Coffee beans are often labeled with their tropical places of origin: Nicaragua, Colombia, or Ethiopia. But with the right indoor environment, you can grow a coffee plant—yes, the same kind that produces coffee beans—in your own home. Read on to learn more about this glossy leafed plant and how to care for it in your space.

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About the coffee plant

The coffee plant is part of the Coffea genus of plants, which includes many tropical species native to Asia and Africa. The flowering plants produce berries, which are harvested and roasted to produce coffee. Coffee plants have dark green, glossy leaves, and are quite bushy and full in their early years.

What kind of light does the coffee plant need?

Coffee plants favor bright, indirect light. They don’t like direct light, which can sunburn their leaves. Stick with bright, filtered light and you’ll be okay. If you only have bright direct light, consider a sheer curtain to diffuse the light. 

How much should you water your coffee plant?

Don’t let your coffee plant dry out all of the way. These plants love water, and need a regular watering schedule. Skipping a week or longer (eek!) will result in damage to your plant. Give it a drink when that soil is dry an inch or so from the surface, which can be easily measured by the knuckles on your fingers. One knuckle is roughly one inch. Once you get to know your plant better you’ll be able to set a watering schedule, a perfect use for your calendar on your smartphone. Remember, the more light a plant gets, the water it generally needs. 

Another thing you need to know: Coffee plants are rainforest plants that thrive on humidity. Get yourself a spray bottle and mist your plant every other day or so. It will thank you with plentiful new growth! 

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What kind of soil and fertilizer does your coffee plant need?

You can pot coffee plants in a common potting mix, but they tend to like a dense, peaty mix. You can add peat to your soil, or buy a specialty mix. I’ve done it both ways with success. The more dense the potting mix, the more water it’s going to hold. 

To fertilize, use your favorite indoor plant mix. Remember to follow the directions on the bottle in order to avoid giving your plant a chemical burn. 

What kind of pot should you use for your coffee plant?

Coffee plants love water and because of this, it might be in your best interest to avoid porous pots like the ones made from terracotta. It is also important to have a container with drainage. While coffee plants love water, their roots don’t like to sit in it for very long.

When given the proper care, your plant will grow at a decent pace. You’ll have to repot at least once a year, bumping up the pot size by a couple of inches each time. 

How should you prune your coffee plant?

If you don’t want your coffee plant to grow into a six-foot behemoth that will take over the corner of your small living space, you’ll need to know how to prune it. It’s not hard. Remember not to prune more than ⅓ of the plant off at a time. Any more than that, and your plant might go into shock. 

Every time you prune, cut the branches back to just a bit above the intersection between the stem and leaf. A good time to do this in the early spring season while the plant is putting out new shoots. 

About the coffee plant’s beans

One of the most frequent questions about the coffee plant is if the plant will actually produce beans while grown indoors. The short answer is yes, it is possible. The long answer is that it is a long, difficult road and it won’t happen until the plant is mature and has been pollinated.

After the plant has reached five or six years and has matured, it will probably produce a few beautiful, scented flowers. If you want those flowers to produce berries, you’ll need to hand pollinate them. If you get berries, the beans will be inside them. So, if you dote on your coffee plant long enough, with a little luck, you might receive the ultimate reward!