Permaculture plant: Coffee

We all love coffee, but often the beans have travelled a long way to reach our cup. Is it possible to grow it yourself and cut down on those food miles?

Generally, coffee is grown in warmer climates. In Australia, this means from Northern NSW, South East Queensland and the Atherton Tablelands. The theoretical lower latitude is 30º (about Grafton), but it could be grown further south if protected from frost in suitable microclimates.

An attractive and ornamental plant, coffee (Coffea arabica) belongs to the same family as gardenias and citrus. It has glossy dark green leaves and a covering of fragrant small white flowers, followed by green berries and bright red cherries. It is a very robust plant, with few pests and diseases.

The greatest production of beans comes from well-fertilised bushes growing in full sun, however they are also shade tolerant and grow quite happily under or with other trees and bushes. This makes it a suitable plant to be used as an understory or windbreak.