Johnsons Coffee will attempt to grow Arabica coffee plants in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland's first cup of locally grown coffee could be ready in just three years.
Lisburn coffee roaster Johnsons Coffee has begun a project to cultivate 18 Arabica coffee plants here.
The company's sales director, Philip Mills, said curiosity had driven him to bring the plants to Northern Ireland.
He added: "We have been roasting coffee for more than 100 years here in Northern Ireland and wanted to experience the complete process of producing it, including growing.
"We've never done it before and I don't know of anyone else in Northern Ireland who has, so we wanted to give it a go."
The project, which is a collaboration between Johnsons and David Pattison, a horticulturist and landscape design company director, could produce enough coffee to make around 300 cups every year.
However, Mr Mills explained that there was no long-term plan to grow beans locally because the cost of replicating optimum growing conditions in the UK would be much too expensive. Normally, coffee is grown in countries with a warm climate and high humidity and at a high altitude.
Mr Pattison said: "It has been a very interesting challenge to replicate the climatic conditions, with temperature, humidity and light all being important factors that need to be considered.
"I am very pleased that the plants are all very healthy, and I am sure in time there will bear fruit and produce good coffee beans. The aim is the educational value of the project, with many staff from local coffee shops, restaurants, business and hotels now being able to understand and see the complete process at first-hand of how a cup of coffee is produced."
Mr Mills added that while the first crop of coffee beans was expected to be ready to be harvested in just three years, because of the way coffee plants mature, it will take a further two years before the first high-quality brew is produced.