Brace yourselves, coffee drinkers, for what I am about to say may chill you right to the very marrow of your bones: A caffeine-free coffee shop has just opened in New York. Called Swiss Water Coffee Studio, it's located at 300 Lafayette Street, right near the Broadway-Lafeyette subway stop. Halloween may be over, but who says the season of fear has to end?
Swiss Water's Facebook page for the shop invites us to “experience the Art of Coffee Without Caffeine with a beautiful art wall capturing coffee's journey from crop to cp, and a range of decaf coffee options including espresso, manually brewed coffee, and fantastic cold brew.” They'll be holding home brewing and cupping demonstrations, as well, and on two nights (one of which has already passed, unfortunately), there will be live music: Leisure Cruise played on Oct. 30, and Hollerado will be taking the stage on Nov. 5.
Reactions to the shop have been… shall we say, strong. The Washington Post noted that Swiss Water's opening was greeted with “horror” and “outrage”; Jezebel suggested that we all “try not to scream”; Quartz questioned, “Who needs this?”; and Eater, in my favorite response of all, called it “the first sign of the cultural apocalypse.” If this, too, is your perspective, then at least you can take comfort in this fact: Swiss Water Coffee Studio is a pop-up shop, so it opened on Oct. 30 and will close after Nov. 8.
Now, it's worth noting that even decaf coffee isn't completely devoid of caffeine: According to the Mayo Clinic, an eight-ounce cup of decaf might still have anywhere between two and 12 mg of the stimulant in it. However, Swiss Water's offerings are likely on the lower end of things; the pop-up's Facebook event page specifies that Swiss Water manages to rid their coffee beans of 99.9 percent of the caffeine, which means that it probably has, at most, two milligrams in it.
But although I, personally, side with everyone saying “WTF?!” about the whole thing, I kind of understand the impulse behind it: By taking caffeine out of the equation, it forces us to really deal with how the coffee tastes. Although I'm sure most, if not all, coffee drinkers appreciate a cup of really good coffee — I know I sure do — most of us probably also subject ourselves to some questionable brews purely so we can get ourselves through long and potentially painful days (especially when we haven't gotten enough sleep). Just because the cultural norm is to rely on coffee for its stimulant-related properties doesn't mean we have to drink it only for the caffeine, right? And besides, a delicious and decadent cup of coffee can be a treat all on its own, even if it doesn't have that extra little pick-me-up in it.
So, hey. Maybe Swiss Water is onto something. I'll still likely be kicking off my mornings with my usual cup of high-test, but sometimes it's worth stopping and tasting the coffee regardless of its caffeine content, right?