The coffee tree produces purple or red cherries (edible fruits). Coffee beans are seen inside them. Coffee trees are bush type trees that can reach up to a height of 12 feet. Their flowers are white in colour. Once a coffee orchard is established, we can expect coffee beans from them for up to 60 years.
Generally, coffee produces its beans after 4 years of planting. Coffee plants can be grown in pots and containers and even in backyards. Commercial farming of coffee is an advisable business which earns us maximum profit.
Coffee is a very complex and multidimensional thing and just like in human relationships, you must really get to know it before you can understand it. There are a lot of things that affect the taste of your coffee, and I wanted to tell you shortly about some of those things. So sit back, relax and start deepening your relationship with coffee.
There are two types of coffee – Robusta and Arabica. Robusta grows in low altitude areas and Arabica in high altitude areas.
The following are the best way on how to go about your coffee farming:
🌿 Spacing : The spacing between Robusta plants is 10 feet by 10 feet and between Arabica ones is 8 feet by 8 feet.
🌿Dig right size holes – 2 feet long x 2 feet wide x 2 feet deep.
🌿While digging holes: heap the top soil on one side and bottom soil on another side.
🌿Add manure to the dug-out soil and mix thoroughly and return it into the holes.
🌿Mark the center of the holes using a small stick and leave them for 1-1 and half months before planting.
🌿Obtain coffee seedlings from Certified Coffee Nurseries for your coffee farming.
🌿During the planting season, plant very early in the morning or late in the evening.
🌿Remove the polythene pot cover before planting the seedling/cutting carefully not to damage the seedling.
🌿Provide temporary shade to the newly planted coffee seedlings and water in case of water stress. Water conservation channels/bands are important in coffee.
🌿When the coffee seedlings have attained a height of about 11/2 foot or 6 – 9 months after planting, they should be trained (bent in an east to west direction i.e. sunrise to sunset direction) to initiate multiple branches from which the lowest and most healthy 2 are selected and maintained together with the original seedlings. This ensures higher yield and profitability per tree.
🌿The coffee garden should always be mulched and “ weed free ”
🌿 Beans and bananas are good inter-crops for coffee.
🌿Continuous de-suckering and pruning of the coffee plants should be practiced in order to prevent development of a micro climate that encourages pests such as Black Coffee Twig Borer (BCTB).
🌿At maturity, harvest only the red-ripe cherry and dry.
Conditions that Favour Coffee Farming
The following conditions favour its production in the country:
- Temperature – Coffee does well under temperatures of 14 to 26°C although Arabica coffee can tolerate temperatures of upto 30°C. In Kenya the coffee growing areas experience cool to hot climate ideal for coffeee growing. The temperatures average 15°— 30°C.
- Rainfall – Arabica coffee requires rainfall ranging between 1000 and 2 000 mm per annum. Many coffee growing areas in Kenya receive high rainfall of about 1000 — 2000 mm which is well distributed.
- Soils – Most of the growing areas in Kenya have fertile deep volcanic soils which are suitable for coffee. The soils are well drained and are acidic with a pH of between 5.3 and 6.0.
- Topography – The coffee growing areas have undulating landscape with hill slopes and gentle slopes. This has ensured well drained and aerated soils.
- Altitude – Most of the growing areas have a high altitude ranging between 610 m and 1,830 m. However in a few areas like Machakos, coffee is grown at slightly lower altitudes.
- Transport – The growing areas have good roads which has enabled the crop to be transported to the buying centres and factories. This has also helped in marketing of the processed berries.
- Labour – Coffee growing is labour intensive. A lot of manual labour is required for. Planting, running and harvesting. The dense population in the growing areas has provided a source of labour.
Health benefits of Coffee
- Reduce depression.
- Natural source of anti-oxidants.
- Reduce the risk of diabetes.
- Lower the chances of heart diseases
- Promotes liver health.
- Protection against Parkinson’s disease.
- Helps to prevent certain types of cancer.
Demanding Arabica vs tough Robusta
Like in any relationship, you need to find the perfect match for you: the one that suits you and your taste the best. Coffee is no exception. And if you’re not sure yet what you like, the only solution is to try different things. That’s how people find their perfect husband or wife as well. There’s heaps of variation in the market, so be bold and explore.
About 70% of the world’s coffee are varieties of Arabica and the rest is varieties of Robusta. I like to think that Arabica is like women; very sophisticated with a lot of different nuances, flavors and aromas. It’s more expensive and well-defined and most of all harder to please and requires additional care and attention. Changes for example in rainfall, sunshine and temperature can ruin the whole harvest, so Arabica is very demanding – just like women most of the time.
Robusta on the contrary is tougher and stronger, it can handle changing situations better and doesn’t really need any extra care. So just like most men in this world. But don’t get me wrong, there are also not so good Arabica and also more high-level Robusta. Anything is possible, and we don’t want to make unconditional allocation between those two.
A big part of the coffee that we’re used to drink is 100% Arabica. That’s simply because of the better and more complex taste Arabica has compared to Robusta. One of the biggest reasons why it tastes better, is the fact that the coffee cherries take longer to ripe because of the higher altitude and the cooler weather.
That gives the bean inside the cherry more time to absorb all the wonderful, exciting ingredients for the flavor that are coming to life after roasting. Robusta’s flavors are strong, earthy, similar to tobacco and it has way more body than Arabica beans. That’s why it’s normally used in small amounts in espresso blends to get a good shot with good crema in it.
There are other species as well, but none of them are commercially significant. In the Philippines for instance, people are growing species called Liberica.
It’s just small amounts and basically only for their own consumption. People are experimenting also crossbreeds between Arabica and Robusta, so that both of their good qualities could be combined and life would then be even more wonderful.
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Here are some Amazing Coffee farming guides and other Coffee products to assist you further and help you get started: