Can you grow coffee beans in the UK?

You can grow coffee beans in the UK, but it’s a huge challenge. The coffee tree doesn’t handle our climate well and so a lot of work is needed to help it survive, never mind produce the cherries. But, for the super-keen, we explore the two ways you can make your dreams come true.

But first, let’s look at why the UK is full of coffee roasters, but not coffee farms.

What is the best climate for growing coffee?

Coffee beans grow best in warm and humid climates. Look for:

These climates are commonly found between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, with the equator running straight through the middle. It’s known as the Coffee Belt.

Coffee farmers love the Belt due to its predictable temperature patterns. Rainfall influences seasonal differences so it’s easy to plan planting and harvesting.

What is the UK’s climate like?

Anyone living in the UK knows our climate is nothing like the tropics. The UK climate is moist and temperate. The winters get cool whilst the summers get warm. Our temperatures are forever changing - one day you’re wearing a coat, the next day you’re wearing a tank top.

But, one factor is constant - our rainfall. Although it’s hard to believe, our rainfall sits just under the tropics, typically experiencing 60-115mm per month.

As our climate is the complete opposite to the tropics, it’s near impossible to grow coffee beans in the UK.

But I did say near impossible…

The Almighty Polytunnel!

Gardeners and agricultural farmers are well versed with polytunnels already. They're used across the country for growing vegetables, fruits, and flowers. If you ever visit a Pick Your Own farm, you’ll find yourself walking through polytunnels trying to source the perfect strawberry.

A polytunnel is a steel framed tunnel with a polythene cover. It’s a cost-effective excellent method for creating climates to grow crops not usually found in the UK. Charles Downding’s advice on buying polytunnels is highly recommended for first-time growers.

Let’s be upfront here:

This isn’t going to grow great coffee. For enough beans for one cup, it’s going to take a lot of work, sweat and tears, for a mediocre experience.

But, if you’re super-keen, a polytunnel could make your dreams come true.

We recommend growing coffee from an already grown plant, rather than a seed. It’ll speed up the process and reduce the already high-risk of growing in the UK. Make sure to pot the plant in loam-based compost!

March - September:

October - February:

*The slightest bit of frost will kill the coffee plants. It’s why coffee plants struggle to survive the winter in the UK.

Harvesting coffee beans

At first, small white flowers will bloom before eventually being replaced by the coffee cherry. After harvest, you will need to ferment, dry, and roast them before brewing them.

Growing your coffee plant indoors

Not interested in the labour and expenses of growing coffee beans in a polytunnel? You can attempt to grow it indoors!

Keep your house between 22-24ºC at all times, whilst ensuring it gets 4-5 hours of sunlight per day. If their soil remains damp and drains well, expect the plant to bloom small, white flowers.

Humidity will be a real challenge. Misting the plant every day can prevent the leaves starting to brown.

The chances of harvesting coffee cherries are still slim. I’d recommend focusing on cultivating your coffee plant rather than growing for production. It makes a fantastic addition to any plant enthusiasts’s collection!

Jon Vanzile’s guide on The Spruce is a must-read for anyone looking to grow and care for their coffee plant indoors.

You don’t have to grow coffee to enjoy it. At groundabout, we help coffee lovers make the best damn coffee every single time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *