Molecule, a newly-opened cafe in New York’s East Village, has sparked a lot of controversy when it started selling tap water for the price of $2.50 per bottle. It might sound like a scam, and many think it is just that, but the owners say the price is right for a taste of “pure H2O”.
Experts say New York’s tap water is among the safest and tastiest in the world, coming from “a watershed that is relatively pristine,” according to chemical engineer Lorraine Huchler, but some people believe it can get a lot better. Two of them, Alexander Venet and Adam Ruhf decided to actually do something about it, and opened the Molecule Cafe, in East Village, where people can buy tap water purified through a complex seven-step process. They have this $25,000 machine that uses UV light, ozone treatments, and reverse osmosis to make superior-grade water that its creators believe is worth $2.50 a bottle.
Adam Ruhf, who moved to New York from California, last year, describes the local water as “terrible”. “I don’t want chemicals in my water. I don’t even want chlorine in my water. Chlorine is like bleach. Do you want to drink bleach? No one wants to drink bleach. So that’s my opinion on New York tap water,” he said. That’s why they opened Molecule, a place that looks more like a laboratory than a cafe, because of the giant filtration machine, a large tank connected to various tubes and a bunch of monitoring dials. The owners say so far none of those who have tried Molecule water has complained about the taste. Not everyone is crazy about it, but it doesn’t taste bad either. “I mean it’s subtle, but if you have a sensitive palate you can totally tell” Ruhf says about the difference between regular tap water and their pure H2O.
But not everyone agrees Molecule sells premium-grade water. Some call it dead water because the minerals in the liquid are removed along with the chemicals, New York Post journalist Steve Cuozzo calls it tannic and unnatural-tasting, while others just say it’s just a scam. What do the owners of Molecule think about all this? “Either you buy into it or you don’t,” Ruhf said, “There is a good concentration of people who would understand what we are doing without much explanation from the beginning.” I do believe he’s right about that. There are people out there who would actually pay $2.50 for a bottle of tap water. And for those who wouldn’t, the East Village water cafe offers an “all natural sports-drink line, like Gatorade for yogis.” For an additional $1 you can add vitamins, minerals or a mixture of roots, herbs, fruits and mushrooms added to your drink.