Caffe RaroCoke from a glass bottle poured into a cup full of ice: beverage heaven. I reckon my teeth will be falling out long before time due to a serious addiction to Coca Cola. For me there’s only one beverage that compares: a well brewed coffee. At the moment I’m enjoying a strong smoky coffee called “Komodo Dragon,” which is fantastic.

My ears pricked up earlier this week when I discovered a gourmet coffee on sale in a London department store for £50 per cup. Wow! That’s gotta be some damn fine coffee, eh? That’s no Starbucks muck going into those cups. Caffe Raro – thought to be the most expensive in the world – is made from Jamaican Blue Mountain and Kopi Luwak coffee beans.

At £50 per cup it must be something special. Perhaps very rare beans? Perhaps such toil is required in the growing of the beans that many workers die to bring us such a fine cup? Just what justifies coffee at £50 per cup?

As it turns out the £50 coffee is, quite literally, shit coffee.

That’s right: shit. Not shit tasting. Actually shit out of the assholes of some weird cat creature. What happens is the Kopi Luwak coffee beans are eaten by these Asian cat-like creatures (called palm civets) and then pass through the intestine of the animal only, inevitably, to emerge a few hours later amidst a pile of shit. These animals are rumoured to have a real knack for picking out the best and ripest coffee berries, and their digestive system breaks down the fruit to leave a little bunch of shit covered beans in their wake which are collected by plantation workers (hopefully wearing gloves), washed and roasted.

The beans sell for around £320 a kilo, and Peter Jones in Sloane Square London is donating all proceeds from the sale of the coffee this month to the MacMillan Cancer Support charity.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard rumour of such a thing. When John was last over in Belfast we went to lunch with a vegetarian journalist friend of ours who told us about some brand of coffee which is eaten and shit by monkeys and that “as a vegetarian” he would never taste it, to which John jokingly replied that he would never taste it “as a human being.” I guess it does sound rather vile to think that something you are drinking is made from ground beans that passed through the intestines of an animal. But then again the meat that we eat was once inside an animal: and if you like liver or kidney then you’re effectively eating organs that were full of the toxins and waste materials that ultimately emerge as animal piss. Similar things could be said about vegetables grown in the ground which thrive on animal shit.

I must admit such considerations don’t deter me. I’ve eaten dishes in eastern Europe even when I hadn’t a baldly clue what the hell they were (one such meal looked like someone had shredded animal intestines, force fed it to someone who threw it up and then served it onto my plate). So I’m not deterred by the “yuck factor” involved here. And I thought the “as a vegetarian” comment was a bit weak. Is there any animal suffering involved? I don’t really know but I doubt it. Admittedly I’ve never tried to shit coffee beans and I don’t know any other human being who has so I’m in the dark as to what the levels of pain involved are: presumably somewhere between mild constipation and giving birth? However, to the best of my knowledge the coffee-shitting cats aren’t force fed the beans, and I seriously doubt that passing a few beans is any worse than shitting out a few peanuts, a feat which my wife’s (now dead) dog managed with apparent ease on a daily basis. For these cats its probably a case of “meow” rather than “ME-OWWWW!” I reckon much more harm is done to animals in the process of growing and harvesting vegetables, particularly when we take account of the numbers of terribly unlucky small mammals – voles, mice, rats – that get caught up in agricultural machinery, or the poor buggers – badgers, foxes, rabbits – shot by farmers protecting their crops all so vegetarians can eat peas and carrots with a “clean” conscience in the “knowledge” that no animals had to die (nudge-nudge-wink-wink) so they could stick to their “no food with a face” diet.

Alas the only reason I have to refuse this coffee is simply a consideration of price versus value. Is a cup of £50 really that much better than a cup at £5? Maybe it is better, but forty-five pounds worth better? I doubt it. I suspect the price reflects the process involved in producing this coffee rather than the value of the end product. I don’t particularly like paying through the nose for products largely because it costs a shit load (pardon the pun) of money to produce them. Now, if someone could genetically engineer a cat to shit 6 million coffee beans a day which came out washed and ready-roasted – and thus a hell of a lot cheaper – then maybe I’d be interested.

Until then I must stick to my good old Komodo Dragon. Huh…I wonder why it’s called that?