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Growing tea and coffee in the suburbs
Trevor Cochrane's freshly harvested coffee beans. Picture: Guru Productions

Coffee and tea are two of our most commonly used beverages - just about everyone loves a nice cuppa and, the fresher it is, the better the quality.

We've started to become connoisseurs of both tea and coffee in recent years and worldwide consumption is at an all-time high, so why not grow your own at home?

With both coffee and tea plants, the best placement is a full-sun position, and both perform better when grown in soil high in organic matter - in other words, make sure there's heaps of humus dug in before planting out.

Planting caffeine

Coffee is a sub-tropical shrub that performs well in the Hills, foothills and in pots in the Perth metro area.

The shrub will eventually grow to 3-4m high. Its dark green, glossy foliage tends to be susceptible to burns if it's exposed to strong winds, alkaline soils or bore water that is slightly salty or alkaline.

I have a three-year-old plant at home in Kalamunda growing in full sun in poor soil and it has only just grown to a metre tall, but has already produced two crops of beans. The reality is you are not going to produce enough beans from the fruit on your coffee bush to sustain a caffeine addiction, but it will allow you to produce a few cups.

Coffee is grown in some parts of the world as a foliage feature plant in pots. If you are in a coastal area, my suggestion is to do just this. It will produce berries and the foliage is attractive. You can even bring this beauty indoors, as it likes the milder conditions.

Harvesting tea

The fresh new foliage of tea is the source of the best quality green tea you will ever have.

Tea was once classed as a member of the Camellia family, although in recent times it has been categorised on its own as Thea sinensis.

The growing conditions are not dissimilar to coffee in many ways.

Best results for tea plants will be achieved in pots, although slightly acid soils in the Hills in a position that never dries out will work. The South West of WA is better situated to grow this dark green foliaged shrub.