TwylaMae, My Own Little Coffea Arabica Plant
I am an amateur gardener and I live in a zone 4 city in Southern Ontario, Canada. As a senior citizen who has been getting dirty in the yard for years, I know a thing or two about a lot of plants. I also drink a lot of coffee and I am always on the lookout for a tasty brew.
About 5 years ago, I was in a local large food chain grocery store and I was in the coffee aisle taking a closer look at the bags.
I noticed that the word “arabica coffea” was on most bags, which I’d never noticed before.
I’m sure all you coffee lovers know this already, but me being an elderly gentleman, I sometimes miss these things.
But here’s something I bet you haven’t tried – growing your own coffee arabica plant at home! I’m a bit of a DIY’er, and stubborn to boot, so I figured – Hey, why can’t I just GROW my own coffee instead of buying it?
How I Grew My Own Coffee Plant At Home
I was so intrigued by the idea of of this coffee arabica plant that I decided to try and grow one indoors in Ontario.
My one stop shopping store is Amazon and sure enough they had what I wanted. Since I live in Canada, I had to pay for the shipping, but that was ok with me. When you want something great, money is no object! (Ha! Ha!)
Coffea Arabica Needs The Proper Fertilizer
After my research on the Arabica Coffea plant, I knew that I needed good potting soil and maybe some 10-10-10 fertilizer.
It took a while for the plant to arrive and once it did, I was so excited, I got right to work and potted it.
The sunlight, water conditions and soil type were very important to keeping it indoors and healthy. Also, plant food really helped her grow! I watched over my new baby daily. The nice thing was that I could keep it outside in my garden from May until October as long as there was no frost. That will kill it for sure!
Every time friends came to visit, I would introduce them to my coffee plant. I called her “TwylaMae”. I think of TwylaMae as my own personal movie star in plant form. Call me crazy.
Taking Care Of Your Coffea Arabica Plant
Now, TwylaMae, my little Arabica Coffea plant has been around for years. She didn’t really ever like being moved into the house in the cold weather months, but I have always re-potted her before I brought her indoors. She knew that I loved her very much.
According to my research, she wouldn’t produce the berries, better known as the cherry, for 4 years, and the experts were correct. The beautiful jasmine fragrant white cluster flowers developed, and then soon after the cherry formed.
Once the cherry berry was dark red in colour, I knew that I could harvest it. If you pick them early, they won’t ripen and they aren’t worth keeping.
Each cherry contained 2 coffee beans or seeds. After all those years, you’d think that by the time TwylaMae was baring fruit, I would be ready to harvest the beans and turn them into a delicious cup of coffee, but this in itself had its own learning curve!
One thing you need to be ready for is the roasting process. This will most likely involve a good quality home coffee bean roaster. When coffee cherries are ripe, you need to get those seeds out of them which are your coffee beans, but first they must be roasted.
Here is a video talking about the home roasting process in some detail.
If you decide to go the “home roaster” route like I did, you should know that this method will tend to smoke up the house a bit, and the smell of the burned off chaff will tend to linger in the house for quite some time. This is something people either love or hate.
The amount and size of beans, as well as your altitude will make a difference in the roasting process, so this is a ‘live and learn process.
The Oven Method Of Home Roasting
The beans should be placed in some form of perforated container, such as a steel strainer or vegetable steamer. Place them in a pre-heated, 250 degree F. oven for about seven minutes.
Then, increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees. In about ten minutes the beans should begin to crackle. (This timing will depend on the temperature, heat capacity of the oven, and the beans; so keep an eye on them.)
When the beans start crackling, mix them up, to promote an even roast. Check their colour every two minutes until they have achieved a color slightly lighter than the end color which you desire. (As the beans cool, they will continue roasting).
When they have completely cooled, store them in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
….. or grind em, brew em and enjoy the freshest coffee you’ll ever taste!”
TwylaMae – The Perfect Home Grown Coffee Plant?
Well, you might ask, “Was all this trouble of growing your own coffee plant worth it?” My answer was … “Most Certainly!” But maybe not in the way you might think. Over time, I realized that TwylaMae isn’t really a great plant for growing and harvesting coffee. Having this plant around really did teach me a lot about growing coffee, harvest the beans from the cherries, roasting on my own, grinding, and much more! But now TwylaMae sits mainly as a houseplant, but a lovely one I must say. Once in a while I try to harvest some of her beans, but since I drink coffee daily, I now just stick to doing most of it myself except for the farming part!
I still have my Arabica Coffea plant to this day and according to the experts, it should be with me for another 50 years. I won’t be around to see it grow old, but my daughter should be and she loves to get down and dirty as do I in the garden.
Please enjoy my poem that I wrote which I dedicated to TwylaMae.
High in the forests of Yemen
Ethiopian babies were born
Pericarped and endocarped
Twin girls, swaddled from the cold winds
Arab goats kept bunas company
As they grew into mature genotypes
Cloaked in white jasmine
With red and purple fruits
Some wanted to prune
While others picked by hand
But the cultivars
Won out in the end
World famous now
In the Blue Jamaican Mountains
Even Colombia Supremo will
Challenge Europe, China and the Americas
For just a taste of their sweetness