Growing coffee

29 November 2011

Keeping on the subject of making things from scratch, one day I picked a coffee “cherry” from a nearby tree and decided I would try to sprout a plant from it. No luck.

A little while later, at a nearby coffee farm near Volcán Poás in Costa Rica, I decided to grab a handful of the cherries and was determined to sprout something from at least one of them.  I forgot about them for a while (as I do). Some time later I remembered my little cherries and got started!

At the time, we were living on the second floor of a tall apartment complex on the Pan-American Highway. Yes, I always got kicks out of telling people that we lived on the road that separates North and South America. Anyway, we had a strange tiny nook where our bedroom window was, and in its place was a wooden board, which Alex originally had used as a desk (free Wi-Fi thanks to the fast-food outlet next door!) It was changed into my plant table as it was the only spot in the apartment that received total sunlight. On my table, I was already trialling the planting of garlic and any other random seeds I would find on my three hour journey to-and-from work everyday.

So with my brand new cherries, and after compiling some information about Arabica growth, I popped four full cherries into a small pot.

A month or two later, lo and behold, one cherry had sprouted! I was ecstatic! Finally I was getting somewhere.

As time went by, all the cherries has sprouted into beautiful little plants. Each cherry has two parts to it, and therefore two seeds in it. So all in all I had started growing eight little coffee trees.

We ended up moving to suegra’s house, and luckily for my plants, she had a balcony. My plants enjoyed the more natural environment, and responded well to the regular rainfall and humidity of San José. Before I knew it, my plants were thriving… and it was time for us to leave Costa Rica. I left my plants in the capable hands of suegra, who continues to look after them and take photos of them for me (shown here with my Mexican cotton):

Upon returning to Australia, I came into contact with a professional coffee plant distributor, who alerted me that there would be a plant sale in Melbourne. The trees were being brought down from New South Wales. Of course I rushed out to buy one, even though in Melbourne it is very unlikely for the trees to grow cherries.

I bought the tree just in time for Melbourne’s frosty winter. It was a very sad time for my tree. At the time we were still at my parents’ house and they really didn’t have a great indoor spot for a tree to flourish. The pot I was using had no proper drainage and I ended up drowning the poor tree. I decided to make a temporary greenhouse and take the tree outside for the rest of the winter, but it was too late. Although my tree didn’t quite die (yet), it is currently very withered and sad. I don’t think it will come back to life.

So now I await another coffee tree sale, this time with plans to buy a portable greenhouse and to do my best to ensure my plant thrives and lives. My main goal in all this is to have my own coffee tree, with cherries, and make my own coffee from scratch.

Although if I have another dead tree on my hands, I think it will be time to move to Brisbane!

Here’s how my beautiful plants in Costa Rica have been growing:

And while we’re at it, check out my cotton now. I picked the seed from a tree at a local park. It went pretty crazy. It grew so fast!

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  • Reply Al 29 November 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Where could i buy a coffee plant in melbourne??

    • Reply Nicole 29 November 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Hi Al. I bought mine a year ago from Masters, but I haven’t seen them there for a while. I believe you can also buy them online from

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