With the impending financial crunch staring us down and cautioning a wiser approach to spending, it's good to know that the moneyed Londoner still has ample opportunity to disgorge his or her cash on the finer things. Case in point: a Sloane Square department store is selling cat-excreted coffee for £50 a cup.
Customers at Peter Jones can now sample Caffe Raro, a blend of Jamaican Blue Mountain and Kopi Luwak beans that is considered to be the world's most expensive coffee. At £324 per kilo, it's the Kopi Luwak beans that are responsible for the cost, and the unorthodox path they take from the ground to your cup explains why.
The story begins in the plantations of Indonesia, where the cat-like Asian Palm Civet, which has a rarefied palate, judiciously gobbles only the finest samples of Sumatran coffee berry. The berry takes a whirlwind tour through the picky moggy's digestive tract, which breaks down the fruit's flesh before dumping it out the other end. Workers then collect the remains, wash away the excess matter, and hand-roast them for twelve minutes in order to "maximise the potential of each coffee". Delish.
According to this taste test from a few years ago, the brew is "chocolatey, with undertones of molasses and tobacco", although another connoisseur dismisses it as "gamey" while one is convinced it's just like Earl Grey. Hmm.
Profits from all sales in April are going to Macmillan Cancer Support, but even so, we're not entirely convinced that shelling out 50 bones for something that came out of kitty's behind is a wise move.
Image of Kopi Luwak beans from miscpix's Flickrstream