Adam Ruhf, above, is one of the owners of the new Molecule water-only cafe. Photos by Bob Krasner
BY BOB KRASNER | One cannot be blamed for being a little confused about whether or not any given source of nourishment is good or bad for you. Coffee, for instance, is bad for you… . No, wait…it’s actually good for you. Among other things, it contains antioxidants and reduces the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease. You may not be buying that one, though, so you might want to switch to tea. But don’t drink too much black tea, guys, since it was recently announced that drinking seven cups a day may increase your chances of prostate cancer.
Speaking of studies, how about the one that claimed that daily consumption of Twinkies is a good way to shore up your immune system? All right, I made that one up. But everyone knows that water is good for you, right? And, of course, New York City water is one of the best sources in the country, yes? One billion gallons of it are filtered, tested and delivered to more than 8 million city dwellers every day. It even has fluoride to help protect your teeth, though then again, there’s the whole fluoridation debate.
Adam Ruhf, one of the owners of the recently opened “water cafe” Molecule, would like to set you straight on that one, and a few other things as well. The proprietor of this small shop at 259 E. 10th St. that sells nothing but water, he is adamant and somewhat defensive about his product. What he’s selling is New York City tap water, purified in an eight-step process that takes pretty much everything out, including the fluoride, which Ruhf claims is unnecessary. He notes that a Harvard study found that this chemical affects children’s IQ and their neurological development. Ruhf gets silent when asked about what else is being taken out, since he does not want the situation to be viewed as “Molecule vs. New York City water.” Instead he encourages us to go online and read some environmental reports.
He also declines to state the cost of his machine, but in a previous conversation he mentioned a $25,000 investment. One can understand his reluctance to talk to the press, since a quick Google search will turn up a long list of skepticism on parade.
His water is not only about what is being removed, but what can be added. A shot of anything from vitamins and minerals to electrolytes and alkaline can be added to your 16-ounce, refillable bottle for an additional $1 per shot. For another $2 per infusion, you can boost your immune system or sharpen your brainpower with herbs and roots derived from traditional medicines from the Far East. It doesn’t take much to part with a good chunk of your lunch money, but refills are pretty reasonable — $ 1 for up to a 50-ounce container. A gallon of pure water, in your container, is $3.
Ruhf has also got a hangover remedy that’s pretty popular, especially on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Other regulars stop in from all over the city to refill their previously purchased glass bottles and curious passersby stop in to find out what it’s all about, a process that Ruhf welcomes. The Brita and other such contraptions don’t filter out all that much, he says. He explains that you can buy bottled water, but the carbon footprint left after the production of all that plastic is huge — and the industry is not monitored anyway, so who knows where their water is coming from?
Although no one is monitoring Molecule either, one look at some used filters gives one a pretty good idea of what is coming out of the tap. A pristine white filter that is supposed to last three weeks becomes a dark brown tube of sludge after just three to five days. There is no doubt that the men behind Molecule believe in their product, of which they will happily share a free sample. In fact, they see themselves as a step in the right direction for people to find a way to better health. They envision shops all over the city, a bottling plant and are soon to implement large, bottled-water deliveries that they say will be priced competitively with other services. So, as the saying goes, you pay your money and you take your choice.
In the meantime, we’re hoping that the news will start to run a health report along with the weather, just so we know what is good for us on any given day and what is not. But at least we know that water is always going to be beneficial, right? Well, unless you drink too much of it, since that can lead to water intoxication, which means that…well, you can look it up. I’m going out for a beer.