2012 explosion of coffee flower power

I cannot be happier for my little coffee “farm” in my living room in Rockland, Victoria B.C. Canada – one of my plants is on its second bloom this year – which is wild.

This is not Hawaii. This is not Costa Rica.
This is Victoria.

I guess I still have a green thumb.

Click on any photo for the bigger view.

Happy little coffee plant - ArabicaCoffee plant background: Many folks who love coffee would like to have a coffee plant to admire – here is the skinny on coffee plants. They are not dramatic. They are not colorful. They are largely green and, if you are lucky and treat them right, they will bloom once a year and produce a few “cherries” – these cherries you can pop in your mouth and chew the fruit off – and then spit them out and dry them.

Most people I talk to say, “Hey, do you roast your beans?”
Well no. I have had some pretty good harvests but roasting coffee is way more complicated than picking the beans and tossing them in the oven or in a frying pan or popcorn maker.
Coffee is a very labor intensive crop – from the ground up – and if you have any inclination to grow some plants and create your own steady supply of java…
Well, you might be better off moving to Hawaii.
Coffee plants require special care – they are moderately fragile. They like a certain amount of light and the right amount of “food” and water – and soil with really good drainage.

Cultivation: Abbreviated explanation A coffee plant from a seedling, if raised in your home can take 5 years before it blooms. I speak from experience. And when it blooms, the flowers appear for around 1 – 5 days. There is a lot of waiting for a brief explosion of color. The flower are white, small and moderately fragrant.
When the flowers fall off, the small seed buds soon appear – the Cherry.
They start green, become yellow and then Red over a period of weeks or a month or so. When they are ready you can gently pull them from the stem.

Coffee fruit: Every coffee cherry contains 2 “beans” covered in slimy mucilage after you remove the fruit. OK, so you can clean that off in cold water. Then they need to be dried until there is a certain percentage of moisture in the bean. How do you do that? You could use a low oven – but you also need a method of measuring moisture content – fairly accurately. We won’t go into those tools here because I am sure that I have almost lost you.
The silver skin: Coffee beans have a flak jacket type coat called the silver skin. You need to remove this before you roast. You can do this by hand.
But wait, there is more! Coffee beans have one more coating – called chaff – yet another layer that comes off when you roast – and it floats in the air landing where you cannot get to it. Cool huh? In bigger roasters, there are chaff collection gizmos that handle this.
Roasting: Coffee roasting is smokey, fussy, messy and maddening. I know, I have done my fair share. There are lots of online resources and You-Tube tutorials about coffee roasting. Go look.
A better idea: Grow the coffee plants. Feel good about them. You are better off raising a coffee plant than having a pet or getting a rabbit or kitten for your children. Coffee plants are kind of like teenagers. They need care and feeding and do not seem to do anything – and you need to wait an eternity for anything interesting to happen. They seem to be at their most productive and fecund when they are teenagers – which for coffee plants can be a good thing. For teens, not so much.

Still interested?

I cannot be happier for my little coffee “farm” in my living room in Rockland, Victoria B.C. Canada – one of my plants is on its second bloom this year – which is wild. This is not Hawaii. This is not Costa Rica. This is Victoria. I guess I still have a green thumb. Click…