As a household that loves good coffee - I'm talking rich, Italian-roasted, french-pressed coffee - and that also loves growing our own food, it seemed a natural thought that we should try growing our own coffee. Whenever I have looked into it, though, what I have learned always stopped me from trying it. Growing coffee - especially in a climate like we have in Minnesota - can seem daunting. Even more challenging: starting coffee from seed always seemed an absurd idea.
Dried coffee seeds are notorious for not germinating. When they do germinate, it can take up to 6 months. SIX MONTHS!
Getting your hands on some fresh coffee berries and extracting the fresh seeds results in better and faster germination. But, have you ever tried to find fresh coffee berries in Minnesota?!
Assuming the seeds germinate, there is then a 3-year period of growing before a small harvest of beans can begin. On top of all of that, good coffee plants can be ultra picky about their growing conditions. Particularly, they want a lot of humidity, which is easy to come by in the summer here. In winter, on the other hand, the air here is as dry as a desert.
As I said, growing coffee in Minnesota is an absurd idea. But, then, I am just the kind of guy who likes to take on absurd challenges. I found a source of dry coffee beans that seemed to fit my needs. I soaked them in water for a day (as is recommended) and I planted them in a pot in the solarium today. Coffee likes warm, damp soil and most sources recommend putting the seeds on some kind of heat sources. Not wanting to waste electricity, I decided to devise a small greenhouse out of a heavy plastic bag, and planted the seeds in a dark pot. I then put this setup next to a south-west facing window.
The dark pot should take heat from the Sun, the bag should trap heat and raise the temperature inside quite a bit. It should also help hold moisture. I'll start the clock today to see if/when they germinate.
Like so many things we have done on our path to become more sustainable, this is a fun experiment that offers no loss if it fails and great fun and reward if it is successful. The dream of sitting down to a rich cup of home grown and roasted java 3 years from now is too much fun!