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REVIEW: Sodastream

The machine and syrup

Sodastream Soda Maker machines and kids range in cost from $79 to $249. SodaMix flavors cost $4.99, $6.99, or $9.99 depending on the variety and size. Carbonators start at $29.99 and go up to $99.99.

Pros: Eliminates the need to purchase plastic bottles and cans of soda; Healthy options such as sugar-sweetened soda syrup, seltzer, and flavored waters; Cost-effective after you recoup your initial investment; Great in a pinch when you have unexpected guests pop over; No electricity required.
Cons: Another machine to keep in your house. Can be messy if (like me!) you do it wrong. Initial investment is hefty unless you get the unit on sale.
Bottom line: In the long-term, the Sodastream can be a cost-effective, healthy way to drink soda.

Anyone who has followed my blog knows my husband loves soda. When I met him he had a four-can-a-day Pepsi habit. (I can’t tell you how many times we argued about it, actually. Thank goodness he quit Pepsi cold turkey) Me? I’m not a soda drinker, preferring seltzer if I can’t have plain water. However, when I was offered a chance to review the Sodastream, I jumped at it. I am an obsessive recycler, and the idea of having one (or two) reusable soda bottles instead of buying virgin plastic every time my husband wants a soda was appealing. The fact that the company offers high fructose corn syrup-free options made the Sodastream too good to resist.

I wish I could say I was the one who unwrapped and set up my unit, but my husband beat me to it. The Sodastream package I got (The Genesis) is a starter kit. It came with the unit itself, (which is battery- and plug-free I might add) and the following items:

  • a 60 liter carbonator
  • 2 carbonating bottles
  • 3 bottles of SodaMix concentrate, which make 12 liters of soda each
  • a SodaMix concentrate variety 12 pack

Here’s how the Sodastream works: After installing the carbonator, you simply fill one of the special carbonating bottles — you must use the special bottles for safety reasons — with filtered water and screw the bottle into the unit. Once it’s firmly connected, you add the fizz (carbonation) by pushing a lever. People like my husband who like their soda really fizzy can add more carbonation. People like me can add less. Once the fizz is in there, you remove the bottle from the unit and add the flavoring. Again, you can add more or less depending on your tastes.

For his first try, my husband made (what else?) a liter of SparklingNaturals Naturally Sweetened Cola, which contains sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup and is one of ten “natural” soda options. From the manufacturer:

“SodaStream Sparkling Naturals…contain no artificial flavors, no artificial colors and no artificial sweeteners, and do not contain any preservatives, making them a perfect, sparkling, natural soda alternative for the entire family. Each 750ml bottle of Sparkling Natural concentrate will make 6 liters (approximately 25 8-oz servings) of all-natural soda. ”

I tasted it and it reminded me of the soda I drank occasionally in my childhood. It was sweet, but not too sweet. My husband, the soda connoisseur, really liked it, too. (And I know for a fact he got a big kick out of the soda-making process.)

Since I’m the one writing the review, I had to try it out, too so I used the second empty bottle that came with my kit to make some flavored seltzer water. My first try was less-than-perfect. I did not tighten the bottle onto the unit the way I was supposed to so the water sprayed all over me and the kitchen as soon as I tried to add carbonation. Once I cleaned up and fastened it correctly, however, the process was fairly simple. I opted to use the MyWater Essences that were sent separately. There are four flavors available: orange, raspberry, lemon-lime, and mint. From the manufacturer:

“MyWater is unsweetened, all-natural flavor essence for making lightly flavored seltzer or sparkling water. Each 40ml (1.35 fl oz) bottle will make around 20 liters of flavored sparkling water and comes in a purse containing three bottles.”

I chose the raspberry, and found it to be very pleasant and sweet — definitely on par with or better than the flavored seltzers I’ve purchased in stores.

We’ve had the unit for a few weeks now. My husband makes a new bottle of soda every few days. I really like that the bottles are liters rather than 2-liters since it cuts down on waste. (He always threw out the last third of his 2-liters since he said they went flat in the fridge.) So far, keeping the bottles clean is easy. We’ve washed the bottles by swishing around warm water and a little soap, turning them upside down so they will dry. We store the unit itself under my bar. It’s light and, since it doesn’t have wires, is really easy to put away.

Overall, I think the Sodastream is a smart addition to the kitchen — at least for those people who drink a lot of soda. Soda is always fresh and fizzy (or not-so-fizzy if you are like me and prefer flavored water instead), and it’s easy to make, clean up after making, and store. My one hesitation is the cost. If you’re buying the SparklingNaturals, which is what we’d buy, the cost is $9.99 for a bottle of concentrate that makes six liters. Anyone who is used to buying 2-liter soda bottles on sale for $1.49 is going to balk at the price. That said, when I buy my husband his natural soda from Whole Foods, it isn’t cheap so I don’t mind the cost. It’s about the same. People who don’t care whether they ingest HFCS have more cost-effective options available to them. The regular SodaMixes — which are $4.99 for a bottle that makes 12 liters — will actually save money in the long run. That is, once they recoup their original equipment outlay. I am definitely saving money on my flavored seltzer. MyWater Essences cost $9.99 and make 60 liters — VERY cost-effective, I think.

Of course, for many people it will come down to taste, and the ability to make their own personalized sodas when they want them. (My soda connoisseur husband falls into this category.) For these people, Sodastream is a no-brainer, and would make a perfect gift. There’s also the appeal of having so many different varieties, most of which are not available in premade supermarket versions. For instance, I actually tried black currant pear, and thought it was yummy, albeit filled with chemicals. Other flavors include a variety of iced teas and sodas such as orange mango, lemonade, and grape.

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