Is growing coffee in North Florida possible – and where can one buy coffee plants?
It’s possible to grow it, for sure, with some serious caveats. And I’ve also found a source for seedlings (I’ll get to that in a minute).
I’ve proven you can grow coffee in North Florida… and I’ll share the evidence. Check out this beautiful little coffee plant:
That baby coffee tree is growing by the south wall of my house. I started it from a coffee bean I germinated over a year ago – and it’s managed to survive and thrive right on through the winter, despite us having more than one night in the 20s.
How can this be?
The block wall of my house holds enough heat overnight that there’s a little pocket of tropical weather that extends perhaps 1-2′ from the wall. Though we get multiple freezing nights, that little space is like Miami… and it’s warm enough that I’m growing coffee, which can’t take ANY temperatures below freezing.
Of course, this little coffee tree won’t fruit for another year or two… and when it does, it won’t really make enough fruit to do much with, as was shared by Kona coffee farmer Gary Strawn on first episode of The Survival Gardener Podcast:
However, you really could get crazy if you had a long enough south wall…
…or if you had a big greenhouse.
Would it be worth growing coffee in North Florida rather than just buying coffee from Publix? Probably not. But it is cool to think about, isn’t it?
I grow coffee just because it’s awesome.
Where To Buy Coffee Plants
If you want to get your own coffee plants, I’ve found a good seller on Amazon that supplies them – you can buy coffee plants here.
You get multiple plants per pot for that price, too. Very good deal. I’ve tried buying seeds through the mail and germinating them and have had no luck whatsoever. The seeds just don’t keep very long, so it seems you need to just buy a plant, then harvest your own beans and plant those seeds a couple of years later.
I used to germinate the beans off my coffee tree and sell the seedlings in my nursery for a comparable price (or a little more) than the cost of these seedlings on Amazon.
I’ve also seen coffee plants for sale occasionally in some nurseries and at plant shows. They’re hard to find locally, though. Fortunately, they don’t take too long to grow big.
And by the way, if you’re in a colder climate than North Florida, you can grow coffee trees as an indoor plant and even get them to bloom and fruit occasionally.
What About a Cold-Hardy Coffee?
Is there a cold-hardy coffee? Not yet… at least, not that I know of… however…
Here’s a thought: what if someone was able to hybridize C. Arabica or C. Robusta with Florida’s native wild coffee Psychotria nervosa?
Despite what UF writes on wild coffee, there are wild coffee specimens happily surviving the winter in Gainesville which is well north of zone 10. Wide crosses between species are often possible if one is willing to put in the effort… imagine a cold-hardier backyard coffee!
C. Robusta is supposedly more cold tolerant than C. Arabica, but the flavor isn’t as good. I would drink it anyway, though, if I could grow my own outside the normal range of premium coffee. Perhaps repeated plantings of C. Robusta beans might eventually uncover a cold-hardy strain? Always a possibility.
If you haven’t seen the video I made on planning out this south-facing wall and planting the coffee there, it’s short and may give you some good ideas. Here it is:
You should see that planter right now – it’s a dense mass of edible underbrush.
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On a final note, I’m drinking a cup of Kona Earth coffee right now as I write this. After doing the interview with Gary Strawn, I decided to buy some of his coffee. The flavor of this medium roast is incredible – it’s seriously the best coffee I have ever tasted. Slightly sweet, complex, mild and it gives you a really clean caffeine buzz. Love it.