Growing Coffeeberries – Learn About Coffeeberry Shrub Care
Coffee berries are native to the mountains of California. They grow in clusters up to 20 feet high and have a flat, round shape with three or four long slender leaves at the top. These plants produce small white flowers which bloom from June through August.
After they bloom, the berries ripen in September and October.
The fruit is a seedless pod that contains two seeds. When ripe, the berries contain a mild flavor and are very sweet. They are eaten fresh or dried for use in desserts, drinks, jams and jellies.
The berries can be used fresh in salads or canned for jams and jellies.
Roughly 1/3 of all coffee bushes grown worldwide are grown in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains where the trees have been cultivated since the early 1800s. There are over 300 coffee bushes growing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains alone. Most of these trees were planted by John Muir himself.
Some of them date back to 1849 when the first tree was planted there. Today, most of those original trees remain standing today!
California coffeeberry shrubs do not require much care other than regular trimming and pruning to keep their size manageable. However, they need plenty of sunlight so they will thrive if given enough space and water. They can thrive in dry soil but will flower and produce fruit more abundantly with moisture.
Mostly people will harvest the coffee berries from the coffee shrub by shaking the shrub violently. The berries will be shaken off and fall to the ground. They are easily accessible at this point and can be collected as needed.
You can also pick them off individually when you see them but this is tedious so it’s usually only done if you have a large amount of berries to collect.
Take caution when collecting wild berries. It is best to buy or collect from another source a sample berry first to make sure that it is indeed the coffee berry. The coffee berry looks very similar to the false hellebore which is toxic.
It is best not to take any chances!
Coffee berry tea, made from the dried berries, is a popular beverage by many in California. It is also used in various recipes and can be added as a supplement to certain meals for flavor. Alternatively, you can crush the berries up and use them as you would any other flavored coffee.
This is one of the few coffee substitutes that actually has health benefits in addition to a great taste.
If you’re interested in growing your own coffee shrubs, the California Coffee Berry plant is available to you when you buy it from a nursery or seed supplier (depending on the season). They like well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. They should be planted around the beginning of fall (autumn) and will begin producing berries around 3 to 5 years later.
After several years, the bushes can be trimmed back to encourage new growth and to promote larger yields. Enjoy your coffee shrubs and start enjoying the healthy benefits of coffee berry today!
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Sources & references used in this article:
Testing ant predation on the coffee berry borer in shaded and sun coffee plantations in Colombia by I Armbrecht, MC Gallego – Entomologia Experimentalis et …, 2007 – Wiley Online Library
Efficacy of plant essential oils against two major insect pests of coffee (Coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei, and antestia bug, Antestiopsis intricata) and maize … by E Mendesil, M Tadesse, M Negash – … of Phytopathology and Plant …, 2012 – Taylor & Francis
Development of an improved laboratory production technique for the coffee berry borer Hypothenemus hampei, using fresh coffee berries by J Jaramillo, A Chabi‐Olaye… – Entomologia …, 2009 – Wiley Online Library
The Coffee Berry Borer: Biology and Ecology by LF Aristizábal – 2012 – kohalacenter.org
Exploiting the genetic diversity of Beauveria bassiana for improving the biological control of the coffee berry borer through the use of strain mixtures by LP Cruz, AL Gaitan, CE Gongora – Applied Microbiology and …, 2006 – Springer
Introduction to coffee management through discovery learning by M Kimani, T Little, JGM Vos – CAB International. African Regional …, 2002 – academia.edu
Aphanogmus sp. (Hymenoptera: Ceraphronidae): a hyperparasitoid of the coffee berry borer parasitoid Prorops nasuta (Hymenoptera: Bethylidae) in Kenya by J Jaramillo, FE Vega – Biocontrol Science and Technology, 2009 – Taylor & Francis
Spiroacetals in the colonization behaviour of the coffee berry borer: a ‘push-pull’system by TN Njihia, J Jaramillo, L Murungi, D Mwenda, B Orindi… – PLoS …, 2014 – journals.plos.org
Effect of physiological status on olfactory and visual responses of female Hypothenemus hampei during host plant colonization by F Mathieu, V Gaudichon, LO Brun… – Physiological …, 2001 – Wiley Online Library