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Coffee
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Interesting Facts

Caffeine is a natural stimulant produced by several species in the Coffea genus as a defense mechanism against herbivores.

The stimulant properties were known by Early Ethiopians who chewed the leaves of Coffea arabica to dispel fatigue.

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Coffee   (Coffea arabica)

Coffee (Coffea arabica) is a sub tropical, evergreen shrub or tree native to Ethiopia.  Commercially produced crops are typically grown at higher elevations in tropical and sub tropical climates with distinct wet and dry seasons.  Coffea arabica has white fragrant flowers that bloom in the wet spring then again later in the drier months.  Small green oblong fruits 1 cm long follow the flowers and take 9 months to ripen.  The small fruits called "cherries" ripen to a red/ purple color and most often contain two seeds.  Those seeds are then harvested and roasted to be used to make the beverage coffee.  Coffea arabica was the first commercially grown species of coffee and now accounts for 80% of the global coffee crop harvested each year.

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Plant Types: Fruit, Interior Plant, Perennial, Shrub, Tree, Tropical
Light: Partial Shade to Partial Sun
Height: 10 feet to 12 feet
Width: 6 feet to 8 feet
Zones: 11a to 11b
Bloom Color: White
Bloom Seasons: Early spring, Mid spring, Mid summer, Late summer
Leaf Color: Green
Special Features: Edible, Not North American native
Shape: Rounded, Upright or erect
Fertilizer: Miracle-Gro® Shake 'n Feed® Continuous Release All Purpose Plant Food, Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food
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Plant Care
Planting:

Coffee (Coffea arabica) prefers to grow in an area with non direct, filtered light.  Plants will not do well with direct sunlight.  Due to this factor pick a location with partial shade conditions.  Coffee likes a well draining, rich soil that stays moist but not overly wet.  Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and deep enough that the top sits flush with the soil surface.  Fill the remaining space in the hole with loose top soil and water in well.

Container grown Coffee (Coffea arabica) should also be grown in a location with diffused sunlight.  Coffea arabica is a fast growing species so be sure to choose a container size that will support it's growth.  Use a well draining, rich potting soil.  Preferably one that's had an initial starter charge of fertilizer added.

Harvesting:

Harvesting of coffee fruit occurs during the dry season after the "cherries" have ripened to a red/ purple color.  Each fruit most often contains two seeds that are collected and roasted to later make the beverage coffee.

Plant Growth:

Coffee (Coffea arabica) is actually a shrub but due to it's tall, single stem, upright growth is commonly referred to as a tree.  It's got a woody stem and has glossy, tough, dark green, wavy oval leaves. Plants grow to a height of 10-12 feet tall and widths 6-8 feet across.  Coffee is typically productive for 50-60 years but is known to go up to 100 years.  It is only hardy to zone 11a-11b and prefers high sub tropical elevations to grow supreme. 

Blooming:

Coffee begins blooming after 3-5 years.  Coffea arabica blooms at two times during the year.  The most prolific show of blooms happens in the spring during the wettest months.  The second comes later during the dry months and is much less showy.  Coffee has highly fragrant white flowers that precede small 1 cm oblong fruits or drupes commonly called "cherries".  Cherries ripen after nine months to a red/ purple color.

Soil and Irrigation:

Coffee (Coffea arabica) prefers a moist, rich, well draining, loamy soil type.  When growing in a container choose a well draining soil with a starter charge of fertilizer added. 

In nature coffee does best with 40-59 inches of rainfall annually so the plants don't like dry dusty feet.  The root zone should not be allowed to dry out too much or remain too saturated for very long either.  Maintain a regular watering schedule during the growing months.

Fertilization:

Landscape grown plants should be fertilized in the spring using a slow release fertilizer spread around the base of the plants.  Container grown plants should be fertilized every other week during the growing season using a low concentration of fertilizer solution.

Pruning:

Commercially produced coffee (Coffea arabica) requires quite a bit of pruning to do well and have good yields.  Tops of plants should be removed, lower branches and suckers should be cut out leaving only the biggest branches.  Specimen or house plants should be pruned to the desired shape and size removing any dead or dieing wood.

Pests:

Common pest of Coffea are the coffee borer beetle, coffee leaf miner, scale, mites, thrips, catepillars and mineral deficiencies.