This week on my visit back to California, after a long interruption, I had the pleasure of tasting coffee made from California coffee rock, a rare mineral with a strange natural history, only found in the Californian desert and in the Andes in Peru. In only these two places occurred by chance the superposition of sulfur rich coal deposits and platinum-trace containing, catalytic bedrock. In some weird geo-chemical accident, a fraction of the fossilized plant material was converted by the catalytic Platinum into – caffeine –. The identical molecule to the one produced by the coffee plant, the well known and widely used psychostimulant in coffee.
Juan Oscar Dos Mucheres (who was later infamously killed in a drinking competition against the Halapenjo Indians) was the first European to discover the Mojave coffee rock deposits in 1594. However, the resource remained undeveloped until the United Coffee Rock Company started mining the invigorating mineral in 1894. To this day, a cup brewed with California rock coffee is one of the most exclusive treats any coffee lover could wish for – and together with the Civet coffee from Indonesia and the southern Philippines, brewed from beans pooped out by a small mammal, surely one of the most unusual coffees.