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How does coffee grow?

We all regularly enjoy the taste of our favourite coffee, be it espresso, filter, cafetiere or one of the many ways of making it.  But where does coffee come from?   It is actually taken from the cherry grown on a coffee tree!

So what does a coffee cherry look like? There are two major groups being Robusta and Arabica, and these are split into thousands of individual varieties, we personally favour the Arabica grown coffees as we believe these provide a superior end product.

Now lets take a look.

Coffee Cherries picked at a farm

I personally picked these cherries in Brazil at Fazenda Conquest on the Ipanema Coffees estate,  Fazenda is Portuguese for Farm!

So inside these cherries are the actual beans,  they are sprouted in water. We've done this ourselves and we've seen a small sprout grow in just over a few hours, but sometimes up to 24. 

Coffee bean sprouting

 Then they need to be planted in rich soil, ideally with a mix of Chicken manure, to add those extra nutrients. Eventually that small sprouted coffee bean will start to grow.

A coffee bean just starting to grow


They don't normally grow on their own, its good to plant them with friends, in fact this one was planted with 7999 friends as they plant them in rows of 8000.  Interestingly in the Ipanema farms they preferred woman for planting seedlings the farm said this was due to men being to heavy handed and damaging them.

Lots of baby coffee sprouts

After the trees have matured to a size that can survive on their own they are then planted in the field.

This is normally done in rows to give easy access for regular care and eventually when they are mature enough to allow picking of the grown coffee cherries. Here is a small tree only just over a foot in height.

A small coffee tree

Just behind this tree there was a field of more mature trees, ready for harvesting, these can be seen below.

Coffee trees at the farm

All the above pictures were taken ourselves while visiting farms in Brazil.

You can read more about our trip, on the visit to Brazil Fazenda Rio Verde in the Mantiqueira Mountains page.