Coffee is a tropical plant which is also grown in semi-tropical climate. The coffee tree requires heat, humidity and abundant rainfall.
The following temperature and rainfall conditions are necessary for coffee cultivation.
Coffee requires an average temperature between 20°-27°C. Although it grows in day temperature over 32°C in the Arabian Peninsula. Growth is most rapid during hot rainy season and during cool dry season berries ripen and ready for picking. Bright sunshine and warm weather are necessary for the harvesting.
Coffee needs abundant rainfall, i.e. 100 to 200 cm annually. The hill slopes which receive orographic rainfall are thus best for coffee cultivation.
Direct sunlight is harmful for coffee plants; therefore, these are planted under shade of taller trees such as bananas. In some areas, leguminous plants are used which not only provide shade but also enrich soil with nitrogen.
Generally, coffee is grown on slopes having height between 600 to 1,800 metres. The suitability of slopes for coffee is because these are well-drained and also cooler. Water stagnation is very harmful for coffee plants; therefore, hill slopes are best suitable for it.
Soil is the guiding factor in coffee plantation. The ideal soil is one with a good sub-surface drainage, and one that is easily workable. The presence of humus and other nitrogenous matter in the soil is an advantage.
Well-drained volcanic soils contain much potash as well as organic material are the best.
Coffee cultivation required a large number of labour forces because coffee is to be hand-picked, as no machine has so far been developed to do this job. Apart from this, there is much work to be done on plantation all around the year such as field preparation, transplanting, cultivating, pruning, weeding and of course harvesting.
Plantation of coffee is a capital-intensive activity. This is more due to the fact that during first three to four years returns from coffee plantation are nil and expenditure is more. Therefore huge capital is required for coffee cultivation.
For a successful coffee plantation a good network of both internal and external transport is necessary. The internal rail and road transport helps in collection of coffee from producing areas, while distribution is done either by sea and air routes or sometimes by land routes.