Startup Cafe Sells Tap Water For a Cool $2.50 (Plus Tax)

After running standard New York tap water through a $25,000 filter, the folks behind the Molecule Water Café say you can really taste the difference.

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One of the great things about New York City is its ever-growing variety of ethnic and niche culinary options: a meatball shop here, a schnitzel bar there. But for years, the Big Apple’s been egregiously behind the times with its lack of a tap water café.

Good thing the entrepreneurs behind the Molecule Water Cafe in Manhattan’s East Village are around to change that. Instead of overpriced cappuccinos and iced lattes, you can now enjoy a nice cool glass of New York City tap water for just $2.50, plus tax. Of course, this isn’t just plain old New York water. It’s been filtered through a $25,000 apparatus that uses ultraviolet rays, ozone treatments and reverse osmosis to produce what the owners call “pure H2O,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

After the water has undergone this seven-stage treatment process, the change in taste is subtle, “but if you have a sensitive palate you can totally tell,” co-owner Adam Ruhf told the Journal, describing Molecule’s water as “smooth” and “fluffy.” While the Big Apple has long prided itself on clean, high-quality drinking water, Ruhf says that the water is actually loaded with chemicals and chlorine.

(MORE: How Healthy is Your Tap Water?)

Molecule’s customers can enjoy up to 50 oz. of the filtered water for $1, if they bring their own container, or $2.50 for a 16-ounce glass bottle. To some this may seem pricey, considering the fact that already-acceptable New York City tap water flows readily out of public drinking fountains, playground sprinklers, the occasional fire hydrant and, you know, taps. Others argue that the treatment process doesn’t just eliminate chemicals, it also eliminates beneficial minerals. But Ruhf stands by his product. Customers can even add vitamins or mixes of roots and herbs to their water, as well as pH and electrolyte infusions. Yum.

The shop, tucked away on a trendy block of East 10th Street, features the filtration apparatus as its primary decor. Aaron Gallentine, an employee at nearby eatery Dumpling Man, said he was at first skeptical about a business primarily serving water. Though maybe, just maybe, Molecule has set up shop in the right place at the right time.

“It’s so completely random, and the East Village is so completely random,” he told the Journal. “I think this may be the only place this could possibly work.”

MORE: Sparkling Water on Tap: Even French Water Fountains Are Classy