Erin Doman on December 1, 2015 0 Comments Any coffee aficionado can tell you all of the facts about coffee plants and beans. If you want to start growing your own plant or become a connoisseur yourself, you have to expand your own knowledge about coffee. There are two popular types of coffee: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica tends to be more popular because it has more flavor, and is also what this article will be focusing on. If you are interested in growing your own coffee plants, it is important to understand as much as possible about these plants, including what conditions they like to grown in, the composition of the cherry and how to know when the cherries are ready to be picked. Here are 10 facts about Arabica coffee plants that can help you better understand this popular style of java. How to Buy a Coffee Maker 1. Rubiaceae Plant The coffee plant is in the Rubiaceae family. Rubiaceae is a family of flowering plants that is often referred to as the coffee, madder or bedstraw family. The plants are terrestrial trees, shrubs, lianas or herbs that can be recognized by the opposite leaves with interpetiolar stipules. An interpetiolar stipule is a small, leaflike appendage to a leaf that is between petioles, which are stalks that join a leaf to a stem. Rubiaceae is the family of plant, but Coffea is the genus. In general, it is a flowering plant whose seeds are used to make coffee. They are native to southern Africa and tropical Asia. 2. Growing Conditions Having the proper growing conditions is important to get the best results from your coffee plants. Growing conditions affect the quality of the beans. Some good conditions include: Hilly ground Shade Natural mists Cloud cover Shade is important because it provides an even temperature and reduces weeds. Leaf cover from the canopy acts as mulch while also providing protection from wind. A lot of these growing conditions are hard to replicate on your own, so if you plan on growing your own coffee plants, a greenhouse might be the best way to create the proper atmosphere. 3. The Cherry The fruit of the coffee plant is called a cherry. The cherries are edible orange or red fruits that look similar to drupes, or stone fruits. There are five main parts to the cherry: Outer skin: a thick outer membrane that is similar to grape skin Mucilage: a pulp between the outer skin and the pit Parchment skin: the hull of a coffee cherry seed Silver skin: a skin between the hull and the bean Bean: a pit-like seed in the center of the fruit They only part that is truly necessary to make coffee is the bean. 4. The Beans There are several species of Coffea that can be grown for the seeds. The two most popular are the Arabica bean and the Canephora (Robusta) bean. Arabica beans tend to be the most commonly used, but are also more expensive due to their high quality. 5. Arabica The Arabica beans tend to be higher quality than other counterparts. They tend to be more aromatic, have greater flavor and are often the first choice in the specialty coffee industry. This species was originally indigenous to the forests of Ethiopia. C. arabica is believed to be the first species of coffee that was cultivated. Wild plants can grow up to 12 meters tall. 6. The Yield The average coffee plant has an annual yield of one or two pounds of roasted coffee, which is equivalent to nearly 4,000 cherries. That means in order to have enough coffee for two cups a day for one year you would need about 18 coffee trees just for you. 7. When to Harvest It is best to pick the cherries when the fruit is juicy and sweet. If the fruit is picked when they are still green, then the coffee will be sour and thin. On the other side, if the fruit is too ripe, then the beans can spoil and begin to ferment. You have to keep an eye on the plant to know when the fruit is ready to be harvested. It may take some trial and error before you figure out the perfect time to harvest the cherries. 8. How to Harvest Even on the same plant, cherries can become ripe at different times. This means that it is best to handpick the cherries as they individually ripen. This harvest method is called selective picking, which ultimately maximizes the amount of ripe coffee harvested. This means that the same section of a coffee plant can be picked three or four times during the entirety of harvest. 9. Plant Care Unless you live in its native region, chances are the weather will be too volatile or too cold to allow the tree to develop. This means that you will need to grow the plant indoors or in a greenhouse. The coffee plant can do well under artificial plant lighting. You will need to water the tree or shrub twice per week in both a full watering and a half watering. A full watering is when you add water and allow it to drain and then add water with fertilizer and allow it to drain again. A half watering is when you simply add some water to the soil and allow it to drain. It is important to keep the soil moist, but not so moist that the roots start to drown. After the plant has matured, you can encourage flowering by reducing the water for two or three months around the time of winter. When spring returns, make sure the plant is well watered. This practice will help shock the plant into flowering. 10. First Crop Planting a coffee plant is just the beginning when it comes to getting your first harvest. Most plants take four to five years before the first crop is produced. After that, a coffee plant will produce fruit for about 25 years, if properly cared for. If you decide you want to grow your own coffee plants, you should first learn as much as you can about the craft. Even if you only see yourself as a bit of a connoisseur, it is still helpful to gather as much information as possible about coffee plants, beans and how they grow. Knowing the peak times to pick and how to properly maintain the plants will help you be a better coffee harvester and enthusiast. Learning all there is to know about coffee can take a long time. However, you have to start somewhere. These 10 facts are a good starting point for anyone who wants to learn more about the art of growing your own coffee beans. The only way to truly master this skill is by learning as much as you can about the plant, the bean and the process of roasting the bean as well as diving right in and growing some plants of your own.