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Note: Much of the information in this review is based on tests done by the good folks at Wirecutter.
If you like fizzy, carbonated drinks, perhaps you often buy soda pop or similar beverages. If you have some unique tastes or want to pay less for these drinks over time, you should consider getting your own soda maker.
With a soda maker, you use regular tap water (filtered is good) and add (infuse, to use the jargon) as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as you like. Then, with most makers, you can add the flavor or flavors of your own choosing.
In this review, I’ll look at several soda makers with you. One, and only one, of them can handle more than plain water.
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SodaStream Rules the Roost
Most other reviewers tell you that the SodaStream Source model is the best in the market. I won’t argue with that, but you should know that the Source is no longer on the SodaStream website. They seem to have replaced it with the Fizzi model.
Reviewers who compared the Source and the Fizzi preferred the Source for its medium-sized bubbles (relative to all other models) that were generally larger than the bubbles the Fizzi gives you.
One of the main benefits of the Source over the Fizzi and many other models is that the Source doesn’t make you press a button – usually three times – to add the carbonation to your water. With the Source, you press and hold a button until a light tells you that you’ve achieved the level of bubbliness that you want.
Personally, I don’t see this as that much of an advantage over the other models. It’s just a difference. With just a little experience, I know if I’ve pressed the Fizzi’s button often enough and long enough to get the carbonation I want. It’s not that much more inexact than the Source’s method. After all, how do you know for sure that the lights on the Source are giving you accurate information each time? Yes, they probably are, but over time, might they not become more inaccurate?
The bottles you use with the Source are not dishwasher safe. I’m not sure about those used with the Fizzi.
If you really want the Source, you should be able to find it for the foreseeable future at Amazon and from other sources (no pun intended). Eventually, though you’ll have to move on to another model.
KitchenAid Is Really SodaStream in Disguise
The KitchenAid KSS1121 series of soda makers makes no bones about letting you know that their machine is powered by SodaStream inside. It seems that it’s the SodaStream “engine” inside with just a different housing on the outside.
It costs significantly more than a maker with the SodaStream brand, so I’m not sure why you would pick this model over any with the SodaStream brand. There is a handle to pull, instead of a button to press, on the KSS1121. If that makes the KitchenAid more desirable to you, this is the model you want, but again, you’ll have to pay more for it.
If you do look at the KitchenAid, you will see a pair of letters, such as TG, OB, AQ, ER, or CU, at the end of the model name. As far as I can tell, these are simply used to distinguish the different colors of the housing. TG is “tangerine”; OB is “onyx black”; AQ is “aqua sky”; ER is “empire red”; and CU is “contour silver”.
Note that this is another model no longer on the manufacturer’s website. Take that for what it’s worth.
Get the Drinkmate to Make More Than Bubbly Water
I’m not sure why other manufacturers don’t design their soda makers to handle more than water, but they don’t. In fact, using a SodaStream with other liquids voids the warranty.
So if you want to add sparkle to juices, wines, and other drinks, you need to get a Drinkmate.
The Drinkmate accepts CO2 cylinders from Drinkmate (obviously), but also from iSoda and SodaStream. It comes with bottles in 2 sizes, which – as the Wirecutter notes – can be handy if you’re making the components of a cocktail or other multi-ingredient drink.
The Drinkmate is more complicated to use than other soda makers. Attaching a bottle is more fiddly, and there are more steps to the carbonation process.
“That’s because drinks such as juice or wine have more solutes in them, which form smaller and more copious bubbles when combined with CO2. This reaction makes beverages extra fizzy, and in the case of home soda makers, it can cause the liquid to fizz out of the bottle.”
In fact, if you were to be bold and try a non-water liquid in a SodaStream (not caring about the warranty), you would probably have it “explode” on you.
Other reviewers found that the fizziness of the Drinkmate fell somewhere in between the Fizzi (at the low end) and the Source (at the high end).
I have seen the Drinkmate offered in black and in red. I’m not sure if other colors are available.