Before I go any further, an embarrassing disclosure: Coke Zero is one of my weaknesses. I love the stuff, but I try not to drink it too often, making it a “luxury” in my life. I don’t keep it stocked in the house, but about once (okay, twice) a week, I’d pick up a 20-ounce bottle from the corner store, for $1.85.
When we bought the SodaStream, I thought it would be interesting (and cheaper and easier) to try their “Cola Zero” flavor, so we ordered a bottle of the stuff.
They also threw in a free sampler pack of some of their other soda flavors, so it’s given us the opportunity to try a few other flavors without committing to the full jug.
Okay, so. Having said that, here are my observations:
It Carbonates Water Really Well.
Yup, it does its job. However, it’s only for carbonating plain water (you can add stuff to the water later, if you wish). It takes about ten seconds to take a bottle of water out of the fridge, attach it to the machine, and press the button a few times.
Faster than microwave popcorn, and certainly less greasy.
They’re adamant that you should never carbonate anything other than water, and doing so will void your warranty. (Nevertheless, I’m sooo tempted to try carbonating milk. It might be worth it just for the viral video marketing potential. Maybe next St. Patty’s day we’ll carbonate green milk. But I digress.)
This is a no-brainer. It uses no electricity. The bottles can be reused again and again, though they do have an expiration date about three years in the future.
The Gee-Whiz Factor.
Definitely gets a “10” on this one.
It’s fun when you have people over for dinner and you can make seltzer instantly for them. Great conversation starter, and fellow foodies get a real kick out of it.
I just finished our first CO2 tank. I’ll guess I’ve averaged about two liters per day, so we’re right on par with their “makes 60 liters” claim.
At $15 per CO2 refill, that comes out to $0.25 per liter of seltzer.
Let’s say a liter of seltzer at the store is $1.50. For $99 — my initial equipment investment — I’d get 66 bottles of the store-bought stuff. So after going through just the one CO2 tank that came with the setup, I’m nearly break-even already.
For my next $99, I’ll get nearly 400 bottles of home seltzer.
If I had to actually buy that much seltzer from a store, I certainly wouldn’t drink as much of it. Lugging a 2-liter bottle home for every day of the week? No thanks. And if I had to pay a buck-fifty for each liter I drank, I certainly would think twice and have plain water a little more often. Even with the increased consumption, though, it still costs less.
Then there’s the Sodamix Flavors. For $5 to $7 you get enough syrup to make about 12 liters, so tack on another 41 to 58 cents per liter. All told, a liter of home soda costs about 75 cents — which is still cheaper than the store-bought stuff.
The seltzer tastes great. I use filtered water from my fridge, and it’s light, crisp, and refreshing.
The Soda flavors that we’ve tried have been hit-and-miss. The “Diet Cola” and “Cola Zero” taste more like RC Cola than real Coke products, and just don’t do it for me. The “Pete’s Choice” tastes pretty darn close to Dr. Pepper, and the Root Beer flavor was good as well.
My favorite syrup flavor by far has been the Diet Pink Grapefruit. I must admit: Delicious.
Other things I’ve tried: Sliced lemon & lime (classic!), sliced strawberries (summertime!), and crushed blackberries (delighful, but those seeds are crunchy!).
All The Soda Flavors Include Artificial Sweeteners.
Every single one of their Sodamixes flavors contains Sucralose (same stuff as Splenda®), and most of the flavors contain Acesulfame-Potassium.
Why? The artificial sweeteners are so much sweeter than sugar that they need to use much less to achieve the same sweetness.
The bottles of syrup are about a pint, but if they used only sugar as a sweetener, they’d probably be about the size of a 2-liter bottle — which would make shipping and storage much more costly. That would also require different-sized bottles for the regular and diet flavors, which would further complicate matters.
(Next time you’re at the grocery store, hold a box of regular Jello mix in one hand and a package of artificially-sweetened Jello mix in the other. You’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.)
Acesulfame-K requires special mention here. Center for Science in the Public Interest claims that Sucralose is considered safe, but Acesulfame-K should be avoided.
Moreover, it’s been shown that Acesulfame-K can trigger insulin release, and may cause a reaction similar to low blood sugar levels (fatigue, disorientation, irritability). Ironically, this could cause people to eat more, thus promoting weight gain — but that’s for another conversation.
Although the FDA deems it safe, it definitely seems that more testing of Ace-K is needed.
Though I haven’t tried them, they also offer “MyWater Flavor Essences” — which are unsweetened syrups containing “natural flavors.”
Careful, though: “Natural flavors” are not real foods; they’re made in a lab just like artificial flavors. (They’re allowed to be called “natural” because they are actually derived from the food they taste like, unlike “artificial” flavors. More on this in future posts.)
Consumption & Availability.
Here’s the trick. I’ve ended up drinking a lot more of these beverages.
They’re easy (and fun!) to make, and readily available. It’s already in my house, and I don’t have to walk to the store (and shell out $1.85) every time I want a soda.
Even worse, since we’re making a liter at a time, I end up consuming about 32 ounces of soda instead of 20 every time I make a batch.
None of this is a problem when it comes to seltzer, of course, but it certainly is an issue when it comes soda syrups.
The Bottom Line.
I really like the Sodastream. It’s a good product, well built, easy to use, and does what it says it does.
Although I plan on continuing to make seltzer (and maybe throw some real fruit in on occasion), after we use up the soda flavors in the house, we’re not going to buy any more.
When I want a Coke Zero, I’ll hoof it over to the store and buy a real Coke Zero (and perhaps just get a smaller, cheaper, 14-ounce bottle instead.)
Have you tried a Sodastream or other home carbonator? What has your experience been like?
This is a product I personally use and enjoy, and think you will too. If you click on the affiliate links in this post and then make a purchase from Sodastream, I’ll earn a small commission. Thanks for your support!