Grow Your Own Coffee Beans


Unlike T-shirts, sneakers, cell phones, children’s toys, software, appliances, virtually everything made of plastic, and food, people really seem to care about who makes their coffee. Instead of buying guilt-free free trade coffee, [spikec] over on Instructables decided to actually do something to uproot the evils of consumerism. He’s making his own coffee, at home, with a real coffee plant.

[spikec] bought a coffee plant a few years ago off eBay. Coffee plants are actually trees, and with careful pruning they can be maintained to a reasonable size. But what about the weather? Well, for [spikec], who lives in the 7a USDA hardiness zone – a strip that runs from southern New Jersey to the Texas panhandle – he just brings the plant inside when it’s cold.

Once the coffee fruit turns ripe, [spikec] picks the beans, husks the fruit, and puts the beans in a dehydrator. From there, it’s a trip through a small coffee roaster and into a french press.

[spikec] only harvested about a half pound of beans. That’s still very impressive for growing a bonsai coffee tree a thousand miles outside its native range.

47 thoughts on “Grow Your Own Coffee Beans

  1. Meh I’ve done this for years when I was like 15. You pick them, pulp them with a blender or food processor with plastic blades, separate the pump form the beans, dry them out, then you roast them with a good heat gun along with a stainless steel bowl.

  2. What’s with the political/anti-activist rant at the beginning of the description? Having spent time with subsistence farmers, fair trade does make a difference. You mixed up “fair trade” with “free trade”, the latter definitely never aiming to help small producers. All the products listed (except “food”) are not grown by subsistence farmers, they’re produced by people who have willingly taken a job. There’s a big ethical difference.

    Cool story about growing coffee, though.

  3. Louis the XIV kept his coffee tree in a greenhouse. Something like 30 billion coffee trees are descended from that tree today too. I saw something about it on TV yesterday. The very best coffee still comes from Africa though. I say that based on first hand experience.

    1. It’s a coffee / nerves joke. Like all coffee jokes, and the nerves of coffee drinkers, it’s worn out.

      Fry out of Futurama, OTOH, still rocks.

      If I had to work 60 hours a week just to make a living in the richest country in the world, I’d probably want a stimulant too.

  4. Is it Futurama coffee day or something? Is the coffee tree integrated with an Arduino as a cybernetic plant? Will there be a “coffee hack fail” with pictures from the emergency room?

  5. Guilt free? Even if your not buying fair trade this logic is a serious economic fail, when you start making the beans yourself, no one in the third world is getting paid for the beans. Oh the evils of capitalism.. Its so horrible when people engage in volentary transactions, we need to fix that be revoking all transactions with the poor…

    1. But then you give all the money you don’t spend on coffee to poor people.

      And not buying from Nestle, means a little bit less abuse done by them to their suppliers, to third-world babies, and whichever other poor souls.

    2. So when I grow some coffee beans myself, bake them/roast them myself, and make a cup of coffee myself, I should give some money to a farmer in Africa? Why? Why should I pay someone else for something that I have grown myself?

      I hope you’re just being sarcastic ;-)

        1. FWIW carbon credits are apparently a popular “boiler room” scam for telemarketers. Only buy them if your legitimate accountant tells you to. Though that should apply to anything that people ring you up offering for sale. In fact never buy from telemarketers on principle, it’s only the 1 idiot that makes annoying 100,000 people profitable for them. Plus they’re often scams, as I believe I mentioned.

    3. Its not to help them, its so you don’t have to be complicate in their exploitation.
      Its like not buying stolen goods and instead going without. You don’t really help the people who was stolen from, but neither do you help those doing the exploitation.

      Theres actually a pretty good moral dilemma in a lot of our products. Stuff Foxxcon makes, being another good example. People can be under paid, at slave labor conditions….do we reward, say, Apple, for at least giving them a Job at all? Or do we punish Apple in the hope that alternatives will emerge that are better (but thus maybe making those out of a job worse in the meantime).

      1. Well, the history of the Union movement has been “protest and suffer today, for better treatment tomorrow”. You know, unions… for people’s job… Job? You know, people used to… and they’d work there every day for years and years…

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