Product: SodaStream Pure
Rating: Strong Recommend*
We first experienced the SodaStream over the holidays at our cousin's house, where we found ourselves in awe of her new kitchen appliance which allows for nearly instant soda production at home with just 3-4 pulls of a lever. It's a soda lover's dream come true. The appliance is not hi-tech by any measure, relying upon a carbonator to infuse C02 directly into your H20 with a vacuum seal. But what the SodaStream does it does well and with complete ease. We became near obsessed with idea of making our own sodas at home after enjoying a couple glasses.SodaStream was kind enough to send their top of the line SodaStream Pure model for us to give a go, a svelte and tall honorable mention winner of the 2008 Red Dot Design Award that made a notable first impression upon unpacking. It's actually quite large, much more significant in size than the smaller Genesis model we first enjoyed at our relative's kitchen. But it's also better looking, giving the impression of an actual kitchen appliance, fitting in well with all of our other grills, pans, and other metal clad appliances.
Starting up only requires installing the carbonator tube into the housing and closing up the unit; the carbonator is rated to make 60 or 110 liters, the equivalent of anywhere between 170-310 cans of soda pop. Notably, these C02 carbonator canisters can be recycled by sending them directly to SodaStream, who will send pre-paid return boxes for delivery, where canisters in good condition are cleaned, refilled and reused. An exchange for two units costs $29.95, but we've yet to finish using our test model's carbonator to try this service ourselves (and we feel like we're drinking plenty of soda).
Now to the fun part. Making soda is so ridiculously simple, it's a process in which we've had small children help make a bottle of bubbly. Fill the 1 liter BPA-free carbonating bottle up to the marked amount, screw it into SodaStream Pure securely (but not too tightly), then pull the lever up top 3-4 times in short burst and until you hear what sounds like an old man blowing his nose. That sound first heard is often what gets people interested in the process, but it quickly becomes a welcome audio indication the water has been fully carbonated. Afterward, you can enjoy sparkling water from your tap or water filtration system or add one of numerous soda and water flavourings available from SodaStream (we hope SodaStream adds a spout to their bottled flavours, as they can easily make a mess if poured incorrectly). Another idea is to concoct your own soda flavours using fresh squeezed juices, citrus zest, agave sweetener, or whatever else you want to add to your bubbly water.
The few criticisms we have with the machine are outshined by the fun and convenience of SodaStream Pure, but we did notice a few construction issues. One, the attractive brushed metal soda bottle's top came unglued to reveal a standard plastic cap underneath after just a couple of uses. Also, we wish this top of the line unit was made with less plastic; we enjoy the ease in which we could move the unit around the kitchen, but there's a slightly cheap quality to the combination of metal and plastic used. And finally, we hope SodaStream considers moving away from using stickers that are difficult to fully remove from the unit; for some reason they decided to use the type of adhesive that requires numerous washings and it still left the ghost of a mark on the appliance.
And the taste? Surprisingly similar to most store brands with an ample amount of carbonation. In fact, we think your sodas will be better than most store bought brands because these taste less overly sweet. The only blech moment was the "energy" flavour, which reminded us of sweetened cough syrup. But the ginger ale flavour is very thirst quenching and we've got big plans to use Italian soda syrups alongside fresh fruit zests to concoct our own custom beverages. We highly recommend the SodaStream Pure for soda and bubbly water addicts alike.
Pros: easy and fun to use, tastes as good as most brand sodas, small footprint design, reduces material waste in long run, no batteries or power needed.
Cons: some minor construction deficiencies, unit is quite tall, soda flavouring bottles resemble laundry detergent liquid and can be messy to pour.