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Japan is coffee savvy. The streets of metropolitan Tokyo are dotted with hip, trendy cafes serving up pricey lattes and espressos. And for those on the go, there are vending machines dispensing cans of coffee. In summer, the cans are even chilled and also heated in winter. How do you impress the country that invented canned vending machine coffee? With gold.

At Asia's largest pharmaceutical industry exhibition, Japan's Tsukioka Co. Ltd. showed off gold that should spice up dull cups of Joe. The company is best known for making those eatable breath mint-type film, but is trying to build up the gold eating business. Called "Kin Kirara" (Sparkly Gold), these thin, pure gold word and character blocks are able to withstand hot java, not to mention look nice on cakes. According to Tsukioka, the pure gold helps refresh the human body—next to "Happy Birthday," it says "longevity" in Japanese kanji. Don't let the shine scare your wallet off, little packets are available at stores like Tokyu Hands for ¥500 ($4) a pop. But really, can you put a price on drinking cups of coffee with gold letters?

by Brian Ashcraft

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