Looks sleek, cuts down on bottles and cans, and gives you the option of different fizz levels.
The syrups are expensive, and we wish there were less sugary options. It’s a bit of a pain to hunt down charger replacements.
If you drink a lot of fizzy water, SodaStream is an efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly alternative to buying bottles of the stuff.
SodaStream machines work by introducing carbon dioxide into water from a pressurized cylinder to produce fizzy drinks at home, plain or flavored. The Israel-based company sells more than 60 concentrated syrups as flavorings, everything from branded Country Time lemonades to SodaStream Happy Hour, a line of proprietary cocktail mixes. Yves Béhar, the San Francisco–based social entrepreneur and founder of the sustainable design agency fuseproject, designed the Source line for SodaStream. The company touts it as sleek, functional, and efficient, a way to cut down on the waste that results from bottled and canned soft drinks. The Source machine looks good, but how does it perform?
The SodaStream Source model we tested is the Black Metal Soda Maker (product number 1019511011), powered by a 60-liter CO2 canister (that is, each canister can carbonate 60 liters of liquid). It comes with a reusable one-liter BPA-free PET carbonating bottle with a cap designed to preserve fizz (the bottle has a two-year life). The Source has an LED display and comes with a six-flavor SodaMix Taste Sampler.
We made lots of bubbly water and flavored it with both fresh juice and SodaStream’s SodaMix syrups.
What we found: There are three different bubbly settings on the Source, so you can adjust the amount of bubble according to your own taste. The SodaMix syrups we tried were solid facsimiles of brand-name sodas (the Red Bull flavor was particularly dead-on). Although we prefer to flavor our bubbly water with juice, the syrups are good to have around for cocktail parties when you need mixers, or when your soda-guzzling relatives come for a visit and wonder why there isn't a two-liter bottle of Sprite holding court on the dinner table.
It took us a minute to figure out how long to hold down the square carbonating block, and the release of CO2 when we pushed it back up was a little alarming, but we got used to it pretty quickly. The Source comes with only one bottle, so we had to transfer beverages to other containers if we wanted to make more than one flavor and/or fizz style at a time. (SodaStream sells additional bottles, $15 for a two-pack.)
The syrups are a bit pricey, about 7 bucks for a bottle that’ll flavor 12 liters of soda.
And we found the charger replacements a little hard to locate. We looked around at a couple of big-box retailers, and either the chargers weren't listed with the product (Bed Bath & Beyond) or they happened to be out of stock (Walmart). They were sold out online, and the prices varied wildly, between $30 and $70. It was very confusing, until we figured out that we had to bring in our old chargers to the customer service desks at Bed Bath & Beyond or Target, which sells replacements for 15 bucks.
To sum up: The Source is a nice little beauty to have around if you regularly drink bubbly water or carbonated soft drinks. It takes just seconds to turn regular tap water into fancy-pants water. Just keep in mind that if you like the SodaMix syrups, or when you run out of your initial CO2 charger, you'll have to open your wallet.
Photos by Chris Rochelle