Here’s a new way to overcomplicate life: go to a café to drink water.

Would you like some air with that?

At least that’s what Adam Ruhf, the co-owner of New York City’s first “water café” is hoping.

He’s spruiking freshly filtered tap water, guaranteed to be sifted of any nasties in fancy glass bottles with clean blue labels. One cup will set you back $US1. More if you choose to add a selection of vitamin supplements for an extra “health boost”.

Health benefits are probably the only thing that you can’t ridicule about this business idea. According to Ruhf the café water goes through a seven stages of filtration before it hits your glass. Yes, seven. They’ve even installed a very scientific looking jumble of white pipes at the back of the store to set the cynics straight. 

But the real question here has nothing to do with the product and everything to do with the service. Just why would anyone choose to go to a café to drink water in the first place? Perhaps the owners aren’t sure either because the décor is not what you’d call inspiring. It’s a stripped back affair, bare floorboards and a wooden bench with a tap. 

Also, what exactly are you expected to in that café while you are drinking said glass of water? We’ve made an art out of yakking about coffee, but at least there’s variation in what you order. 

There’s really not a whole lot you can say about a glass of water. 

Imagine the conversation: 

Person 1: How’s your water?

Person 2: Tepid. You?

Person: 1 Yes, also tepid. Shall we go?

At least you can guarantee there won’t be too many queues. Then again, this is New York, the city where Seinfeld was set and filmed. If a show about nothing can conquer the Big Apple, why not a café that serves nothing.

Just don’t expect to Russell Crowe in the queue. He tweeted last week that NYC’s tap water as the third best in the world.

Most commented


Show oldest | newest first

    • M says:

      12:38pm | 23/07/12

      What’s the difference between this stuff and the vitamin water sold in shops? Same thing essentially isn’t it? Actually, shouldn’t that go for all bottled water? You’re paying more per litre for water in a plastic container than you do for petrol, and the stuff that comes out of your tap at home does essentially the same thing.

      Call me old fashioned, but If i’m gonna pay to have water at a cafe there better be some form of psychoactive in it, whether it be Caffiene or Ethanol.

    • Happymonkey says:

      12:40pm | 23/07/12

      No Colonel Sanders, you’re wrong. Mama’s right.

    • dancan says:

      12:42pm | 23/07/12

      I think it’s brilliant.  There will be people stupid enough to go there and I reckon there will even be “regulars” it’s such a simple idea with so little overheads.

      I can’t knock the guy from a business standpoint, but I also think this store so perfectly sums up what our society is becoming

    • Martin says:

      01:16pm | 23/07/12



      To quote the wiley Phineas Taylor Barnum “there’s a sucker born every minute”.

    • I <3 Me says:

      03:09pm | 23/07/12

      @ Martin: like I totes don’t know who Phinieas Taylor Hanson or whatever is but Kim Kardashian has been seen there.

    • Jeremy says:

      12:44pm | 23/07/12

      There is cafe near where I live where you can buy buy bottles of artesian well water for just $9 a liter. It’s like vodka, you pay more the more flavorless it becomes, but it doesn’t even get you drunk. Now there’s a idea, some kind of cafe where you get a cup of vodka for $1!

    • JT says:

      01:00pm | 23/07/12

      That’s the irony (stupidity of the yuppie?), pure water is tasteless so the more pure it becomes the less taste it has.

    • Kika says:

      02:24pm | 23/07/12

      @Jeremy - you can in Bundaberg - well, $2.00.

    • Tubesteak says:

      12:45pm | 23/07/12

      It’s like those oxygen bars you see sometimes

      I first saw them iver 10 years ago on a tv show caleed Arliss. Now I know there is one a Darling Harbour. Not very popular

      I guess there’s always some yuppie hypochondriacs with more money and sense willing to buy this stuff

      A fool and his money…..

    • Mahhrat says:

      01:03pm | 23/07/12

      Fuck Yeah.

    • adrock says:

      05:58pm | 23/07/12

      Haha pretty much sums it up I think.

    • AdamC says:

      01:03pm | 23/07/12

      I see this as a riff on exclusivity, which is one of the ‘big trends’ in emerging consumer behaviour. Historically, western (and, especially, American) society has been characterised by a high level of ‘consumption equality’, if not so much income equality. I think it was Andy Warhol who observed that the President, Liz Taylor and the homeless guy on the street corner all drink the same Coca Cola.

      That era is ending. Now, people are looking to define themselves as different, whether based on wealth and success, or simply trendiness. It is no longer OK to share anything in common with the, well, common. (McDonald’s is evil; chain store coffee is horrible; Holden cars are ugly, etc.) 

      Selling special water to snobs and hipsters is pretty congruent with the trend away from the mass market. On that level, it makes sense. Even if the product itself is dumb.

    • M says:

      02:02pm | 23/07/12

      Chain store coffee is horrible but, that’s not just being a slave to trends. My taste buds aren’t at the whims of trying to keep up with being hipster/anti hipster.

      Other than I’d be inclined to agree with your post. Is it sad that we’re defining ourselves by what we consume these days? It strikes me as incredibly shallow.

    • Sigmoid says:

      03:16pm | 23/07/12

      Mystique versus mass-tique. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    • Sad Sad Reality says:

      01:23pm | 23/07/12

      Fleecing wankers is a public service.

    • Fred says:

      01:33pm | 23/07/12

      There are 2 things i will not pay for…water and sex.

    • M says:

      02:06pm | 23/07/12

      Everyone pays for sex

    • Woop woop says:

      02:13pm | 23/07/12

      The one who denies it is a liar, the one who admits it is a fool.

    • year of the dragon says:

      02:42pm | 23/07/12

      M says:02:06pm | 23/07/12

      “Everyone pays for sex “

      How so?

    • Gordon says:

      03:09pm | 23/07/12

      Melbourne Water sends me an invoice every quarter. Wife’s account is slightly less itemised but we both know what’s going on.

    • Tubesteak says:

      03:29pm | 23/07/12

      Nothing is free in life.

      Sex costs time and money. You have to date them or get them drunk and pretend to be interested in them to get them into bed.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      03:35pm | 23/07/12

      I’ve paid dearly for sex, every day for the last 2 years and 3 months.

    • M says:

      04:01pm | 23/07/12

      YOTD, is it really that hard to work out?

      What does either sex trade to do the naughty?

    • RB says:

      01:36pm | 23/07/12

      I remember in primary school (1960s) a mate and I were trying to outdo each other in suggesting the most outrageous things people would one day be going to buy.

      Me: One day people will be putting sand in a bag and selling it.
      He: One day people will be putting horse poo in a bag and selling it.
      Me: One day people will be putting water in a bottle and selling it.
      He: Yeah, as if.

    • Elphaba says:

      01:46pm | 23/07/12

      People go to those stupid oxygen bars, so why not this? 

      Adam Ruhf and his partners are doing us a public service. They’re gathering all the idiots into one location, so that we may given them a wide berth.

    • Inky says:

      05:58pm | 23/07/12

      Expensive premium surface that’s practically identical to something you could get much much cheaper, but with a lot of fancy gimmicks? In New York?

      Given how people love to flaunt their wealth to show they can, why are peopel predicting failure, exactly?

    • John says:

      11:14am | 24/07/12

      I can’t believe this country fluoridates it’s water supply. It’s so hard to get away from it, you can either buy 10 liters of water for 4 dollars from a supermarket, buy a distiller to remove 90% of fluoridate which costs about 3200 watts for 4 liters of water. 60cents of electricity. It’s insanity. How about the australian government give people access to CLEAN drinking water? instead of putting fluoride in the water supply?

      a simply carbon filter will remove just about anything, but it won’t remove fluoride.  The Australian standard should be fluoride free water with carbon filter’s in everyone’s kitchen! The most important asset for survival is contaminated, unbelievable.  Please don’t reply like it’s natural, it’s added at the dam’s, and it’s amazing this stuff comes from roof tops of fractionation buildings like chemical residue, they won’t dump it at sea but will dump it down our mouths!

    • Abilio Henrique says:

      04:52pm | 24/07/12

      John - Get a reverse osmosis filter… costs $200ish.. replacement filters cost about $15 a year.

      Water purer than anything you get in a bottle.

    • bookmarking service says:

      07:04am | 22/10/12

      8IMrpv Wow, great article.Much thanks again. Keep writing.


Facebook Recommendations

Read all about it

Punch live

Up to the minute Twitter chatter

Recent posts

The latest and greatest

The Punch is moving house

The Punch is moving house

Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



Read all about it

Sign up to the free newsletter