Coffee Starts Here

Merchandise on a table in the Seattle Roastery.

Though dubbed a "bean," coffee is far from a legume. A typical coffee bean is actually one of two pits inside of a ruby red fruit called a coffee cherry. (One exception to this is the rare peaberry, where the coffee cherry produces only one pit.)

Many people are surprised to learn that coffee comes from a fruit, and yes—it grows on trees. The arabica coffee tree is the most commonly cultivated species of coffee around the world, though most of us would be hard-pressed to see one in our daily lives. It’s known for its short stature and dark green, waxy foliage, which blooms in sprays of intensely fragrant, snow-white flowers once a season. With just the right climate, terroir and careful tending, the tree yields clusters of green coffee cherries, which ever-so-slowly ripen to a deep crimson hue—a process as complex and nuanced as the coffee it produces.

Woman picks coffee beans from tree. Green coffee beans are growing on tree.

We’ve imported a veritable nursery of these remarkable plants from their balmy home in the tropics to our home in the Pacific Northwest, to celebrate the start of another lush Seattle spring. They’ll transform our Roastery into a verdant wonderland as they await their new homes, ideally gracing a sunny windowsill in your kitchen.

“We’re really excited about this—it’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Marisa Crane, creative manager in the Starbucks Creative Studio. “We’re so big on coffee education at the Roastery, but this is the first time we’re bringing actual coffee plants into a space where we roast and innovate with coffee every day.”

We hope you’ll come bask in the happy glow of these tropical plants and bring home a truly full-circle coffee experience.

Coffee leaves and roots.

Properly caring for a coffee tree is not for the faint of heart! Follow these steps to help your Coffea arabica thrive.

  • Keep your tree in a bright location with indirect sunlight. It thrives best under artificial plant lighting indoors.
  • Atmosphere should be quite humid, approximately 65–75 degrees F or 18–24 degrees C.
  • Keep your tree’s soil moist but well-drained. Setting it on a water-filled pebble tray encourages drainage and humidity.
  • Water the tree twice per week with one full watering and one half watering. In a half watering, simply add some water to the soil and allow it to drain. In a full watering, add water, allow it to drain, and then add water with fertilizer and allow it to drain. Reduce watering in the winter.
  • Lightly fertilize with balanced fertilizer once every two to three months in spring and summer.
  • Flowers—and possibly cherries—may appear after three to five years, when the plant is mature. You can spur flowering by significantly reducing water at the start of winter, then watering well and often at the onset of spring.
  • A happy tree can grow up to six feet tall, so be sure to provide adequate space or incorporate pruning into your care regimen.

With the right care, your coffee plant will provide years of beauty, conversation fodder and a taste of the tropics in your home.

Coffee plants growing in cups.