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Coffee Berry


Tropical Fruit Point

​​​​​​​​Coffee Berry

  • Common name: Coffee berry, Arabic coffee, Arabian coffee, Coffee plant
  • Scientific name: Coffea arabica
  • Family name: Rubiaceae
  • Origin: Yemen
  • Height: 6 to 15 ft
  • Width: 6 to 15 ft
  • Growth: Fast
  • Zone: USDA zones 10 and 11
  • Light needs: Part shade
  • Salt tolerance: Low
  • Soil/pH/Texture: Needs organically rich, consistently moist and well-draining soil with a low pH between 4.9 and 5.6.
  • Moisture: Does well in humid environments where there is regular rainfall. Soil should be kept moist.
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate, can handle short periods of drought once established.
  • Pests/Diseases: May experience bacterial blight and leaf rust occasionally. The coffee berry borer can do serious damage to this plant.
  • Growing conditions: Should be grown in a warm, humid area with well-draining, moist soil. It should get direct sunlight for only around 2 to 6 hours per day, as too much direct sunlight can stunt its growth. Young plants should be watered regularly to ensure good soil moisture. It can be grown indoors, but attention should be paid to the humidity and making sure the soil doesn’t get too waterlogged. This plant is not frost tolerant and will in fact be damaged if temperatures dip below 55 degrees F, so it should only be planted outdoors in very warm areas. The plant should be fertilized during the growing season to produce the best cherries.
  • Characteristics: This tree usually grows to be between 6 and 15 ft, but some have been recorded to reach 30 ft. Individuals tend to have multiple, light tan trunks. Leaves are large, glossy green, ovate, and with wavy margins. The leaves are whorled along the stem and tend to point towards the ground. Flowers are star shaped and grow in puff-like clusters along the length of the stem, and have a fragrance similar to jasmine. The berries are deep red when ripe and edible, although they are mostly harvested for their seeds (“coffee beans”). Plants begin to bear fruit 2-3 years after germination.
  • Propagation: By seed or by air layering. Seed is the most common method, although germination is very slow. Keep in mind that seeds lose their viability around 2 months after harvest, and older seeds tend to germinate more slowly.
  • Wildlife: Flowers are pollinated by insects. Various types of animals eat the fruit.
  • Facts: The seeds are dried and roasted to make coffee, one of the most popular drinks in the world. The seeds also contain many other chemicals which are used for medicinal purposes, such as in aspirin. Wild coffee plants are considered endangered due to the various challenges they face, including deforestation and invasive species. This plant is a hybrid between two other coffee species, and therefore is tetraploid, having two copies of two different genomes. It is the only plant in its genus that is tetraploid.
  • Designer considerations: It makes for a good conversation piece and specimen planting. Since it usually only reaches a height of 15 ft, it makes a good understory tree as well.