New York is filled with trendy single-item restaurants, but this new water-only café might take the biscuit, if only it sold any. Molecule in the East Village filters New York tap water through a custom device and then sells it for $2.50 per 16-ounce glass. The $25,000 machine makes “pharmaceutical-grade water” using a seven-stage process to produce “pure h20,” according to the café's website.
A spokesman for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection said that New York tap water is already renowned for its quality. "Public health experts agree that New York City tap water is among the safest, highest quality in the world, a standard we confirm through more than 500,000 tests each year," he said. But Molecule founder Adam Ruhf dismissed that claim. "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,” Ruhf said.
In addition to being cleaner, Ruhf claimed his water tastes better. He said the taste difference is “subtle, but if you have a sensitive palate you can totally tell.” He called his water "fluffy" and said it finishes smoothly. Shots of vitamins, mixtures of herbs and roots and even pH infusions can be added to orders of the artisanal water. "It's about treating water a little more consciously, mindfully and respectfully," the 32-year-old owner added. "We are trying to change the way people think about water."
But some critics weren’t buying it. “Calling all suckers. We’re not sure what's more unsettling: the fact that an East Village business is selling tap water for $2.50 a bottle, or that countless idiots will probably buy it,” James King said. “Molecule bottled water is ‘pure’ nonsense,” Steve Cuozzo added. Ruhf stood firmly by his water. "Either you buy into it or you don’t," he said. "There is a good concentration of people who would understand what we are doing without much explanation from the beginning," Ruhf said.