Aria Bendix is a frequent contributor to The Atlantic, and a former editorial fellow at CityLab. Her work has appeared on Bustle and The Harvard Crimson.
What is the point of a caffeine-free brew?
It’s an oft-quoted phrase on social media: “There is a time and a place for decaf coffee: Never and in the trash.” As a caffeine addict myself, I’ve often shared this sentiment. Surely coffee without caffeine isn’t coffee at all?
There are those, however, who disagree. A new pop-up café in New York City is even making a name for itself by only serving sustainable, “99.9 percent” caffeine-free roasts. Located in SoHo, Swiss Water Coffee Studio has taken the place of a former BP gas station until November 8, when their contradictory cups will disappear almost as soon as they arrived.
Since opening last Friday, the café has already prompted plenty of sarcasm from coffee-lovers on the internet. In response to an article on Gothamist, for instance, commenters were quick to rail on the concept:
But others were willing to defend the idea:
Despite how paradoxical a caffeine-less coffee shop may seem, this last commenter makes a compelling point: Not everyone can guzzle caffeinated drinks. Doctors warn against pregnant women having too much, and caffeine is linked to dehydration, insomnia, and headaches, among other side effects.
By offering high-quality roasts for those who “love coffee, but don't always need the caffeine,” Swiss Water may have identified an untapped niche in the coffee market. It’s up to New Yorkers to decide whether it’s brilliant or blasphemous.