By this point I suspect most of you have seen the SodaStream on display at various big box stores, they typically are at an end cap. I saw them at this type of store and thought to myself, that seems cool but totally useless. I am a soda drinker, I am mildly addicted to Diet Pepsi and in a pinch drink Diet Coke though I often find the off brand name soda’s to be unpleasing. Initially I thought the SodaStream system(s) were a gimmick and the current snake oil of the month, I was mistaken!
My parents drink more soda than I do and they purchased one from a local Bed Bath and Beyond using one of the famous 20% of coupon’s bringing the purchase price to around $80. This kit includes pretty much everything you need to make your own soda, minus the water itself. When I saw it sitting at my parents house I just shook my head and laughed thinking, I guess there is one born every minute. Then they showed it to me and gave me a demo and a sample, I was more interested. Then they explained the environmental benefits on just purchasing the syrup compared to shipping the heavy liquids, this benefit is I think one of the best values with the SodaStream. The energy saved by not shipping water (which is what the bulk of soda is) is huge, this starts with the large distributors, then the retail outlets themselves and finally you when you’re bringing the soda home, all in all it leads to a large decrease in fuel consumed to get the soda from the plant to you.
I try to be environmentally conscious, but I also don’t like to be fooled by hype. In this case the environmental benefits seem pretty clear, shipping weight burns fuel, reducing the weight being shipped significantly reduces the fuel burned to get your soda to you – seems about as simple as it gets!
The next benefit of this system is the cost savings, yes they exist too! I was very skeptical about this so I did quite a bit of research, computed what my average soda drinking cost, what it would cost using the SodaStream system and in about 18 months I’ll have broken even on the original purchase price. This break even point varies from one drinker to another, it depends how much you drink, what soda flavor’s you drink, some of them cost more or less than others. The regular soda drinker will break even in 12-24 months of the purchase price. While this is far from a great investment it is a decent way to save a little cash in the long term. To me the real benefit is knowing that I’m being environmentally smart while saving a little money and having fresh soda.
Now let’s get onto the soda making itself, I ended up going with the Soda Stream Genesis. The kit is pretty simple to use, I am typically very handy and intuitive when it comes to building things and putting the Genesis together was no exception. I didn’t even need instructions to put the kit together, it just makes sense. It’s also helpful there are only 4-5 pieces needed to initially construct the kits. From there it couldn’t get much simpler, chill water in the supplied 1 liter bottles – two come with the Genesis kit. Then screw them into the Genesis base and pulse the only button about 3 times or until you hear it make a change in the tone of the carbonation, I believe it uses a blow off valve once a specified pressure is reached within the bottle it stops filling the water with CO2. This makes it simple and very consistent, you never get overly bubbly or under carbonated soda, it’s always just right. To give you an idea of how simple it is, I can typically do this entire process in about 20 seconds from the time I get the bottle from the refrigerator to the point I’m unscrewing it from the Genesis with a full 1 liter of carbonated water.
I used to drink a fair amount of club soda, if I still drank that the savings would be even greater, because at this point you just carbonated your home drinking water and made club soda for pennies. However, most of us purchase this kit to make flavored soda or our own custom concoction. If you’re using the SodaStream Flavorings it’s a breeze and very affordable. Or you can get more creative and find your own extracts, sweeteners or virtually anything else you’d like to make a sparkling beverage. You can even buy the name brand syrups from your local Pepsi or Coca-Cola distributor if it’s a must have for you, the only problem is they typically come in large bags and are difficult to make smaller portions of, they are typically designed to work with commercial soda fountains. When it comes to the flavorings or sources for them the sky is really the limit, let your creativity run wild!
As I mentioned above I’m a diet cola drinker and thankfully the SodaStream diet cola is good, it’s a little earthier than Pepsi but still has that slightly overly sweet taste that I enjoy. What’s odd with my diet soda obsession is that as whole I don’t particularly like sweet things, but back to the soda stream. I’m also a fan of energy drinks when I need a little extra pep in my step, which is more often than I want to think about these days. The problem is they are really expensive, SodaStream has a great RedBull knock-off with their energy drink, again I get the diet and it seems to accomplish the same thing for a fraction of the price. Even though the energy drink from SodaStream is a little more money than the regular flavors it’s still a fantastic deal. If I drank more of that style drink I could probably bring my break even point down to 8-10 months.
Overall my experience has been superb, I have no complaints about the system or idea and now that I’ve lived with it for a few months I enjoy it and it is easier leaving the big, heavy soda at the store. I enjoy some of the flavors more than other’s but overall I think it’s a good purchase for a regular soda drinker. The beauty of the kit I received is that it was a gift – so I’m saving right away and doing good to the environment! If you’re the sort of person who already has everything this is a great new gadget that you’ll use, enjoy and save money in the process – not to mention doing a small part at protecting the environment!