To grow coffee in Thailand is an odd thing for me to do as I’m tea total and never drink a drop of the hard, black stuff.
Most of the plants I grow are things that I can eat but I’m not the only one here. Understandably, friends and family do like to drink coffee, so it makes sense to grow our own from the bean to the cup for a fresh, organic roast.
I purchased three coffee trees back in the day when we lived on Koh Chang island. I grew them in containers and transferred them to the mainland when we first purchased our land.
I planted them in full sun in the middle of the land and didn’t touch them for nearly a year while we were busy constructing our house.
When I did finally start to pay them more attention, I noticed they hadn’t grown and were very yellow and looked under stress.
Fortunately, one of our subscribers on our YouTube channel informed me the trees really don’t like full sun.
Fortunately, we had just finished building a small house for my outlaws, so as part of the edible landscaping, I dug up the coffee plants and repositioned them down one wall of the house where they would get early morning sun but shade throughout the hottest part of the day.
Our three coffee plants are planted in a row with a lipstick palm and a water ong at the end of the row. The coffee plants loved their new home and now thrive with regularly pruning, flower and produce loads of beans.
Coffee is said to grow best at elevations between 2500 and 6000 feet above sea level. However, where we live in Trat province it’s pretty level with only a few undulating hills. Certainly no noticeable elevation to speak off and our coffee grows just fine.
Further east and south of us is the Cardamom mountain range which I imagine would make ideal conditions for growing coffee in Thailand. Maybe someone does already!
We recently introduced an additional 3 coffee plants to Anarchy Farm and again, they are growing well as an understory plant between the cocoa. So maybe we will add some more in the near future as another crop to sell.
So many people ask me ‘Can you grow coffee in Thailand?” and “What elevation do you grow coffee on in Thailand?” the answer is yes, you can easily grow coffee in Thailand at any elevation. Just grow it as an understory plant and you’ll be fine. If you are establishing a permaculture food forest, it will thrive.
Roasting Coffee Beans
When the green coffee beans ripen and turn red they are ready to be picked from the plants and dried in the sun for a few days.
Once the beans have sun dried, we load up our coffee roasting drum and roast them in the oven for a minimum of thirty minutes on a hot temperature. They are constantly turning to avoid burning. They can also be roasted on a pan on an open stove, but that is a lot more labour intensive.
The aroma of roasting coffee fills the farmhouse and even as a non-coffee drinker, I must confess, it smells great!
Each harvest from our three coffee trees produces a standard size jar of coffee once it’s ground. We use a pestle and mortar, a small hand powered coffee grinder or even a Champion Juicer for that process.
Types of Coffee Beans
When we purchased our coffee plants we had no idea what variety they were, coffee’s coffee, right! Wrong!!!
There are actually four primary types of coffee beans:
- Arabica (Coffee arabica)
- Robusta (Coffee caniphora)
- Liberica (Coffee liberica)
- Excelsa (Coffee liberica).
We naturally assumed we had Robusta variety as we learnt it is widely grown in a number of altitudes and is a resilient plant when compared to the Aribica species. It also has a higher caffeine content that acts as a bug repellent, clever tree!
After more research we found Robusta beans are much more circular, whereas Arabica are more oval. Without having two varieties in hand it’s hard to really know for sure, but we now think we actually have Arabica coffee beans. But the jury is still out. Drop round for a cup of morning Joe to and we can discuss further over a cup or two. I’ll put the kettle on…
How to Grow Coffee in Thailand