Thursday, October 10, 2013

SodaStream Home Soda Maker Product Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
SodaStream is the maker of a consumer home carbonation product based on the principles of making a carbonated drink as originally invented by Guy Gilbey in 1903. The device allows users to take ordinary tap water and carbonate it to create soda water (or carbonated water) to drink. With the addition of one of over 100 different types of concentrated syrups and flavorings produced by Sodastream, owners can create carbonated beverages. After the company merged with Soda-Club in 1998, it was relaunched with an emphasis on healthier drinks. I've been interested in this ever since I saw one and I finally got a chance to review this product which made me very happy! Read on to learn if this really is worth the money and how well it stands up to regular soda...

As someone who LOVES just about every soda out there (except for all of the diet drinks), I couldn't wait to try out this product.  Growing up, a friend of mine had some kind of product that worked just like this one but it wasn't as polished and it's C02 didn't last as long.  The idea of making your own soda is extremely appealing to me.  Even the idea of making a craft beer at home sounds good to me even though I don't like beer at all.  I can't explain it, but this product was made for people like me who prefer to do their own thing.
I've been lamenting for years that you can no longer pick up sodas in glass bottles easily any more but now I can make my own soda and drink it out of a glass so I won't have to deal with that metallic taste from cans.  (They even sell a set that comes with glass carafes!)  Speaking of cans, by using this system, I don't need all of those cans any longer which I'm sure will help the environment.  Just think how many cans people could avoid using if they switched to Sodastream. My biggest concerns about the product was: how would it taste, how expensive would it be, and how easy would it be to use.  So now that that's been established, let me share the answers to those questions.
Honestly, the biggest issue for me was how would the syrup taste.  I can drink the generic version of popular sodas but I'd always prefer the original so this was a big issue for me.  To help me ascertain which ones I like the best, I was given a pretty decent selection of choices to try. Before I get into that, I want to clarify some things up front and explain my main complaint about the product.  Sodastream has three versions of syrups to choose from - a "Diet" version, a "Regular" version, and then there's the "Sparkling Natural" line.

Regular but tastes like Diet
If you are like me, when I see a flavor that's not listed as Diet, then I assume that it's the tasty regular flavor.  That's not the case for Sodastream as their "Regular" non-diet flavors actually contain both natural and ARTIFICIAL flavors.  So even though it's not billed as being a diet drink, it tastes like one which really made me unhappy.  If you want the closest flavor to the real thing, whether it's cola or root beer, or whatever, you need to buy the "Sparkling Natural" or the "Naturally Sweetened" versions.

Wrong One
My tasting selection included the following: Orange (Regular), their version of Dr. Pepper - Pete's Choice (in both Diet and Regular), Energy (kind of like their own Red Bull), Root Beer (Diet and Regular), Diet Cranberry Raspberry,  Lemon-Lime (Diet and Regular), Diet Pink Grapefruit, Diet Cola, and Fountain Mist (their Regular version of Sierra Mist).  Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled about all of the diet flavors and I was especially sad that there wasn't any of the "Natural Sweetened" flavors included.  Another thing to mention is the fact that these samples come in small one use containers and not the large bottles.

Right One
I started off with their Regular Root Beer and immediately discovered that even though it wasn't labeled diet, it still tasted like diet.  Going through the rest of these flavors, I discovered that that was the cast for the rest of them too.  Lucky for me, I had a group of people who like diet drinks that could taste how those turned out.  For the most part, they liked the diet and the regular flavors but my wife who is a die-hard Diet Coke drinker was very disappointed in the Diet Cola flavor which was really bad news since I thought we were going to save a lot of money by not having to buy Diet Coke any more.  We even went out and bought the naturally flavored Diet Cola and she didn't like that either.

I wasn't about to drink any of the diet or the "regular" flavors so I went out and bought the Naturally Sweetened Cola which turned out to be quite tasty.  It doesn't quite taste like Coke or Pepsi but more like maybe RC Cola or a good generic version.  The main thing is that it doesn't taste like diet and it tastes good which was enough for me.  I also bought their Naturally Sweetened Root Beer which was also really good.  In fact, so far every "Natural" flavor I've gotten has been good but I wish there were more choices in their lineup.

Before we move on to cost, I'll also mention how Sodastream compares with the brand name sodas as far as calories, carbs, sugar, sodium, and caffeine goes.  As you can see from the chart below, it wins hands down across the board.  If you are looking for the healthiest non-diet soda out there, look no further than Sodastream.
So how much does all of this cost?  Well you can get a starter pack at Costco that comes with the machine and a selection of trial flavors for around $80 unless you're a big spender and get one of the fancier models that comes with glass carafes.  Each sodamix costs around $11-$15 each.  The tasty Natural flavor line costs more than the other ones which makes sense since they use cane sugar instead of corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.  Another factor which surprised me is that the soda itself lasts a lot longer in these bottles than it usually does in two liter bottles.  Usually after several days, the carbonation is gone in a two liter bottle but that doesn't happen with their proprietary bottles.  At first I thought it was a racket to force you to spend more money on their products, but after using the bottles, I've decided that they're well worth the cost.  The only other cost is the replacement C02 cannisters which is $25-$45 to replace.  You can also get them refilled for less money at Bed Bath and Beyond, Staples, and more.

How Easy Is It?
It doesn't get any easier than this.  All you have to do is fill up the bottle with tap water, screw the bottle to the machine, and hit the button five times or so, and you have carbonated water all ready for syrup.  The whole process takes about a minute to do.  Once you add your cupful of syrup and put the cap back on and gently let it mix with the water, you're all done.  Your days of going to the store and carrying home heavy two liter bottle is over.  There's no mess to clean up (unless you either add the syrup too fast into the water or you shake it too much), and it's easy to put the machine away.

Last Thoughts
Other than the regular flavors tasting like diet, I have no other complaints about the machine or their soda flavors.  It's super easy to use, it's convenient, and just wait to taste what fresh soda tastes like.  You will also be  helping the environment and saving yourself a lot of work not having to lug two liter bottles or cases of cans home from the store.  It's also cool that you can adjust the taste of your drink by adding more or less syrup until it's just how you like it.  There's a bunch of different models and colors to pick from so you shouldn't have any problem finding something that matches the rest of your kitchen.  Another cool thing is that it doesn't need any batteries or electricity to run it.  For the health conscious, this soda is better for you and it doesn't contain any high fructose syrup or aspartame.  In summation, the best selling point I can make, is that every time friends come over and test it out, they end up buying one of their own.

Here's a basic model and a deluxe one and the only difference is whether or not you want to pay extra for the glass carafes and the capability to use them.  Please support the site by clicking on one of these links!

Order yours today! 

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