Love coffee? Grow your own

Many years ago an advertisement for coffee claimed that there were 43 beans in every cup. But is there?

Your coffee is made up generally of two seeds to every coffee bean. These, in quantity, are then ground up to make your preferred drink. However, this then depends on how strong you want the drink to be.

Australia is one of the few regions in the world that is free from the most deadly coffee diseases, coffee borer disease and coffee leaf rust, with Northern NSW and Queensland being the ideal growing areas. But did you know that you can grow this little plant at home and if you were to have enough plants, they will supply you with all your coffee needs?

However, for those who want to try making their own coffee, it is a slow process but well worth the effort to grow the coffee plant at home.

How proud of your achievement would you be, when asking your guests, “would you like to try my homegrown coffee?” A great round-the-table talking point.

There are more than 120 varieties of coffee beans in the world, but according to Gardening Australia’s Jerry Colby, who has two varieties growing, ‘First Fleet’ named for its arrival into Australia with dark red berries and ‘Kamerunga Dwarf’, which has smaller size yellow berries, “they need a lot of water to fruit well”. These are the well-known Arabica beans.

The coffee plant can be purchased as a potted shrub at most nurseries, growing up to five metres if placed in the ground. However, potted plants can be trimmed and maintained to any suitable size you want.

They can also be grown from seed, this often takes the plant longer to mature and even longer to fruit. As the plant matures, clusters of white flowers appear, these are followed by berries of different colours and inside the berries two or three (beans) seeds develop. After picking, these are left in water to ferment for a week and then strained and dried on a tea towel. The flesh of the fruit is sweet and can be eaten fresh or dried.

Next, dry roast the beans, constantly turning until they are an even dark-brown colour. Let cool and place the beans on a flat surface inside a tea towel and run a rolling pin over the top to separate the beans from the outer skin.

Another way is to crush them by hand, separating the husk from the bean by blowing the lighter dry skin away. Store in an airtight container and make yourself a cuppa.

A few things to watch with this plant. Birds and bats can distribute the seeds and though you wouldn’t think so, it can be an environmental problem plant in some areas.

It is a very striking plant and should you not wish to go to all the trouble of harvesting the beans, it can be grown as a potted plant with those colourful berries.

There are many other plants available that have coloured berries, taking the place of flowers that can be grown at home. Many are potted varieties and well worth growing. The internet can assist with further instructions on picking, cleaning and harvesting your coffee bean.

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