Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Random plant event: Coffea arabica

So we now have red berries on the Coffea arabica. Which possibly means that they're ripe. I've looked for information about how to tell the difference between ripe and unripe berries, and there don't appear to be any definitive signs. Obviously color is relevant, but beyond that, the only real clue appears to be that they get a little softer. Which since I have no frame of reference for the softness of coffee berries, I'm not sure how I'll know.

I couldn't get a photo of the plant as a whole. I repotted it in late September, and now it only fits in one place in the house -- a corner in the plant room -- and is way too big and heavy to be able to lift out easily. So getting pictures of the entire plant is going to be a very special-occasion sort of thing, at least until it outgrows the corner. (I have no plans for what to do with it after that. We're basically just hoping really hard that it will slow down.)

As for the eventual fate of the berries, there are really only two possibilities: one, I can try to dry, roast, and grind the seeds myself to make a very tiny amount of low-quality coffee, or two, I can plant the seeds and start more plants. I do love coffee, but if you didn't already know I was going to plant the seeds, you must not have been reading PATSP for very long.1

Either way, I'm totally eating the berries. I've wondered what they're like ever since I first read that they're edible. Report on the taste, etc. to follow eventually.


1 (How many new plants would I get from this? Not sure -- I have a total of 13 berries, I think, and normally each one contains two seeds, occasionally one and rarely three. So probably something like 24-27 seeds. Germination is supposed to be like 95% for seeds that have been allowed to dry for eight weeks, but since I don't know what I'm doing, let's figure 75% instead. That'd be 18-20 new plants.)


Elke Schwarzer said...

I like the taste of the red pulp of the coffee berries - and yours look ready to be sown (and eaten). Last year I have planted a lot of coffee seeds from my own Coffea arabica and it took very long for them to germinate, but what the hell - I just had to try this out.
Keep us informed on the progress of the seeds, good luck!

Anna from Toronto said...

Congrats! I just finished harvesting all of mine and gave it to my deli guy to roast. Have to check in with him, they should be ready by now. I had about 3-4 dozen berries -- not enough for a whole pot but the deli guy says it might be enough for a carafe.

orchideya said...

I know that you can trim most of the tropical large foliage plants with branches. Can you trim the coffea plant so it could just stay in that corner?
I had no idea the berries are eadible and am very curious about the taste.

Tom said...

Because 18-20 new plants is EXACTLY what you need :-P

mr_subjunctive said...


Yes, I'm aware. But how can I not?

Also: the long-term plan is to produce as many coffee trees (in particular) as possible, so that I'll be ready when the zombie apocalypse happens. Imagine being the only person within 100 miles who has any coffee beans. I could rule the town. Maybe even the state!

Which reminds me, I should probably pick up some guns, too.

Andrea said...

I am a coffee person, being born in the province considered to be the oldest one to plant coffee here in the country, the 'barako' coffee is from our province. Barako is the local term for a male animal, but technically that eventually meant to the the coffee variety 'Liberica'. I wonder what variety is yours, maybe the same as it has the biggest berry among the 5 varieties famous for commerce.

That color will still become deep red when soft. I have a friend who has a plantation and produce coffee wines, also the fresh pulp he use as flavoring for his special coffee bread. He is concocting other product lines.

Our plants are not cared for anymore, so civet cat eat the ripe fruits and we just see a lot of seedlings under the trees when the rains come. We just uproot and throw away!

Anonymous said...

How was the fragrance of the flowers before the berries came?

Also - you should make a post listing plants you would take with you through a zombie apocalypse (if you haven't already) or any apocalypse for that matter XD

Pat said...

The best way to stretch a little coffee would be to chocolate-coat after roasting.

mr_subjunctive said...


I haven't been able to smell the flowers yet, actually: not enough of them, and they don't last long enough. So far, I've only found out that the plant had flowered by seeing the dried flowers after the fact.

As for the zombie apocalypse list, well, it's not quite what I personally would want to have with me, but this is pretty close.

Tigerdawn said...

Isn't civet poop coffee supposed to be really expensive?