Trader Joe’s is Selling $8 Coffee Plants—Here’s How to Take Care of Them

updated Sep 1, 2020
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Move over, Starbucks: Trader Joe’s latest collection of houseplants includes a very popular coffee plant. Available for $8, the plant’s deep-green leaves make a refreshing addition to your home. And, if you have a green thumb, ideal conditions, and lots of patience, you could maybe even start to grow your own beans.

Here are some things to consider when you go out to get your first coffee plant:

Can a coffee plant actually grow beans?

In theory, yes. But, in practice, it’s a lot harder (shout out to coffee farmers everywhere). In ideal indoor conditions, a coffee plant would need three to four years to sprout flowers. And, even after you pollinate the flowers by hand, you might only get a few berries.

How do I take care of a coffee plant?

The great thing about coffee plants is that, unlike many succulents, they’re easy to care of!

For sunlight, they should be kept under bright but indirect light. As for temperature, stay consistently above 65 F (18 C), and shield them from any harsh drafts during winter.

They’ll also droop when they’re parched, so it’s not hard to guess when to water. And, just like humans after a sip of coffee, the coffee plants will look alive once again a few hours after watering. Don’t forget to keep the soil moist and damp, but not soaking wet.

According to Real Simple, if you really want to grow your coffee plant—up to six feet tall—you can apply a balanced fertilizer once every two to three months in the spring and summer, as well as do regular pruning during early spring.

Once it has tripled in size, repot and repeat the process until it flowers.

What are common coffee plant problems?

Keep your coffee plant out of direct sunlight and be careful not to overwater. Doing so could lead to problems such as leaf drop and root rot.

How do I harvest my coffee plant’s beans?

After years of nurturing your coffee plant, it will have grown to six feet and enter its flowering phase. Depending on the variety that Trader Joe’s is selling, you may or may not have to hand-pollinate—the plant should self-pollinate if it’s Arabica, and should need cross-pollination if it’s Robusta. A coffee cherry will then grow six months after pollination, each berry able to yield one to two coffee beans. You can start picking once the colors shift from green to red.

How many of these coffee plants do I need to be self-sufficient?

Better Coffee at Home says that the average coffee drinker would need about 33 coffee plants to be self-sufficient. If that’s the case, you might need a bigger place.