Review: Sodastream Fountain Jet Soda Maker

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Thumbs up!"For those who love to drink sparkling water, this is a no-brainer. Saves time, money, effort and the environment all at the same time."
Stephen’s Teaview: 9/10
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A few months ago I remember reading about carbonated iced teas - a new trend that started in Europe but was slowly tip-toeing its way over to the United States.  It registered briefly in my mind as a "hmmm, that's interesting" sort of moment, and so it remained filed away until I came across a company called Sodastream which sells an at-home water carbonation system.  It was with the "cabonated iced tea" idea in mind that I contacted the marketing team at Sodastream, and lo and behold, they were kind enough to send a unit to Teaviews for review.

What arrived was their Fountain Jet Starter Kit - a nicely designed black and silver model complete with two 1-liter, capped bottles and one 60-L carbonator.  (The Sodastream web site says their starter kit comes with two 60-L carbonators - but I checked the packaging several times and I'm sure I received only one.)  Setup was pretty straightforward - open the back of the fountain jet, take out the spare bottle, replace it with the carbonator charger, screw it in tightly, and you're good to go.  There's no electricity or batteries involved here, which is a nice touch.

The set comes with two special 1-liter plastic bottles, but they come with very particular handling and care instructions.  You can't wash them in the dishwasher.  You can't wash them with hot water (only lukewarm, up to 120 degrees F).  If they sustain any damage or scratches you're told to stop using them and replace with new ones.  And finally, each comes with an expiration date, after which you're told to replace with a new bottle.  (Mine was October 2011, so that gives it a lifespan of just over 2.5 years).  A little odd, perhaps, but then you have to remember we're dealing with pressurized gases, so I guess there's a lot of wear and tear these things need to put up with.

The first step in the process is to fill one of the 1-liter bottles with water up to the fill-line, and then upt it in the fridge to get it nice and cold.  The instruction manual emphasizes this point, since cold water will hold carbonation much better than room-temperature water.  Once you've got the bottle nicely chilled, you just screw the top into the front of the Fountain Jet until its tight.  Then press the button on top until you hear a (somewhat nerve-wracking) BUZZ noise.  They recommend doing this three times for a "standard" amount of carbonation.  I like my seltzer heavily carbonated, so I did it 5 times - that came out very bubbly.  I'll probably stick to 3 or 4 charges in future batches.

The whole process (not including refrigeration time) takes all of about 30 seconds to complete, so this is super-fast and easy.  The resulting seltzer was great - just like the expensive stuff you have to lug from the grocery store, only cheaper and more convenient.  I used filtered spring water (we have a monthly water-delivery service) but you could just as easily use filtered tap water and more than likely get similar results.

Now, I should mention here that carbonated iced tea at home probably won't work with this product.  Or at least, it could work, but you'd be voiding your warranty.  The manual specifically says you can not carbonate anything but pure water or you may damage the machine.  I imagine you could carbonate some water and then pour in some powdered tea (such as Rishi's Premium Tea Powder), but my idea of brewing up some tea, cooling it down, and then carbonating it directly is apparently a no-no according to Sodastream.  Ah well.

Personally, I'm loving this machine - but I'm also a huge fan of fizzy water.  I regularly lug home big bottles of Perrier and San Pellegrino from the grocery store - but no more.  30 seconds with this little miracle worker results in fresh, clean-tasting sparkling water that tastes just as good as the brand-name products.  Sodastream also markets a huge line of 20-30 different flavors so you can make proper sodas - cola, root beer, fruit sodas, you name it.  I'm not big on sugary drinks, so I didn't try those, though I did try a few of their "My Water Flavor Essences" - they were ok, but really for me I prefer just straight-up, unflavored sparkling water.

The one big question for me is what to do when the carbonator runs out.  Supposedly its good for 60 bottles of water, so that should last us about 2-3 months.  I read a bit more in the manual and online and found the answer - they offer a pick-up and by-mail replacement service.  Technically, the carbonator isn't sold to you - its simply "loaned" and remains the property of Sodastream.  When it runs out, you either call their 800 number or place an order online for a replacement carbonator.  They'll either schedule a driver to come pick up your charger from your front porch and leave a new one, or if that's not possible, they'll ship it to you UPS along with a pre-paid box to send back your old one.  Since I only have one charger, it looks like my only option is the "Carbonator Kit C", where I send back one empty and get three full ones in return, for $62.49.

So my verdict?  I love it.  If you really enjoy sparkling water, and if you already have at-home access to high-quality water (either delivered or via a good home-filter), its a no-brainer.  It saves you money, it saves you the hassle of lugging heavy bottles of soda-water from the store, and it saves the environment from all those discarded glass and plastic bottles.   Although I've not tried most of their soda-flavors, my guess is those looking to replace actual soda-pop might be less enthused - let's face it, water is water, but soda lovers tend to adhere to specific brands and flavors, and no two colas are exactly alike.   But again, that's just an assumption on my part - they may have some really excellent flavors available, I've just not tried them.

UPDATE: Well, it's about five weeks since I received my Sodastream, and I've just today run out of gas in the carbonator.  I'd say I averaged about 0.9 liters of water carbonated per day during this time, which would come out to around 31.5 liters of carbonation per "60 liter" charger.  Or roughly half of what they claim it will charge.  To be fair, I charge my water about 4 times instead of the recommended 3, so I'm not too disconcerted that it ran out so early.

I've ordered a set of 3 60-liter replacement chargers this evening, and will report back on how the "refill" process works out.  Supposedly they ship them UPS along with a pre-paid box for me to ship back the empty one.  As long as I return the empty within 14 days, everything's kosher.  Finger's crossed - I'm dying for a seltzer tonight and it's killing me that I've run out of gas!  :-)

UPDATE TWO: Now you can save big on a Sodastream Fountain Jet Starter Kit.

— To purchase Sodastream Fountain Jet Soda Maker, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Stephen Stephen
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29 Responses to “Review: Sodastream Fountain Jet Soda Maker”

  1. Laura R. Says:

    If you find that thing gathering dust on your counter, I am calling dibs on it…lol.

  2. brigitta Says:

    to use the Sodastream Fountain Jet Soda Maker
    i make some sirops from my loss tea, than you can put the sirop in the bottle after that you have it carbonated the water.

    the same as it shout be except now you make your own tea sirops from your own brand of teas.

    this is working very nice , when i have a tea tasting party i always give this the people who join the tea tasting and they like it very much .

    greetings brigitta from the netherlands

  3. Ralph R Says:

    Brigitta, could you tell me how to make tea syrup or sirop?

    I use a soda stream, but I am a ice tea oholic, and would love to try carbonated ice tea.

    Thanks!

  4. Amy L Says:

    You can get replacement carbonators at Williams-Sonoma. I just bought a soda maker, but only AFTER researching sources for the replacement cannisters.

  5. Mark Says:

    I’d suggest making carbonated iced tea by leaving a tea bag or loose leaf tea in a sealed bottle of carbonated water and letting it stand in the fridge overnight or longer. If you use loose leaf tea, it should settle sufficiently for the carbonated tea to be poured without it being disturbed. Tell me what you think!

  6. Barbara Says:

    We have a SodaStream that we love. Ordering extra carbonators is easy — we got the three pack, so when two are empty, we order a new set so we’re never without. We leave the empties in a box on our front porch, they get whisked away and replaced with full ones. And we live in a northside Chicago neighborhood, not Mayberry. Best advice: get extra bottles. We cycle through the four we have pretty quickly.

  7. Jason Says:

    Absolutely brilliant!

    Got one last week and my family love it. Saving money, saving the environment and so convenient having soda on demand!

    Bought it thru http://makeyoursoda.com and got $10 off using a discount code MAKESODA

  8. Review: Sodastream Fountain Jet Soda Maker | Teaviews.com « WordBot ALPHA Says:

    […] this is a no-brainer. Saves time, money, effort and the environment all at the same time. – read more […]

  9. Kkillion Says:

    The customer service on getting exchange CO2 cartridges is *horrible* – every order that I have placed has had some problem. Beware especially if you live in an area where they use an independent courier, rather than good ol’ reliable UPS. In this case, they don’t send shipping confirmations or tracking by e-mail, and several times I have waited for bottles only to find that they have not yet shipped (in one case, for weeks).

  10. Michele K Says:

    Thank you, Amy L.,for posting that I can get refills at Williams Sonoma. It is much easier for me to drive there than order and wait for them to come via mail. I have only had it for a couple of weeks, but I am LOVING never running out of bubbly water and not having to haul bottles back from the store.

  11. CHRIS Says:

    CHEAP PLASTIC MACHINES AND THE DRINKS GO FLAT AFTER 10 MINUTES. THEY SHIPPED THE WRONG MACHINE. THEY WILL NOT REFUND MY MOPNEY AND I’VE HAD TO FILE A DISPUTE WITH MY CREDIT CARD COMPANY. THESE GUYS ARE A SERIOUS RIP-OFF. DONOT SUPPORT THEM!!

  12. Cecilia Says:

    Hey, thanks for the advice. Just snatched a new/unopened startup pkg off craigs for $40. I’ll let you know what I think…

  13. Yip Yip Says:

    @11
    THEY WILL NOT REFUND YOUR MOPNEY? OH NOEZ!!!1 COOL STORY BRO!!!!!!!1 HOW DUZ I DO CAPS LOCK????

  14. JM Says:

    There’s a major difference between Perrier and carbonated tap/filtered water: Perrier is full of minerals that helps you absorb the water, while most filters filter out the good stuff.

  15. Yip Yip Says:

    Before ordering Soda Stream’s Fountain Jet, if I wanted a low-carb soda sweetened with Splenda instead of Aspartame, I had to travel past my nearby Walgreen’s and Safeway over to Lucky and pray they had Pepsi One or Diet Zero in stock. Cola. That’s all. Everything else has Aspartame (which, for me, is Headache City).

    Now? Variety! Splenda-sweetened diet variants of Coke, Dr. Pepper, Fresca, Sprite, Crush, A&W Root Beer, lemonade, and so much more. No wasted time, no lugging 2-liters, far less plastic waste, I control the amount of carbonation and flavor. Easy to set up and use, quick delivery.

    If I find any drawbacks, it’s the “loud buzz” that signals adequate carbonation; it’s not so much a “buzz” as the sound of flatulence. (Hope the neighbors don’t hear!) And I hope they come up with a diet version of their cherry cola soon!

    …Do people really need “help” absorbing water?

  16. tammy Says:

    I’ve had mine for a couple of weeks and I really like it for soda. I don’t drink a lot of soda, but i really like like diet orange- very comparable to Sunkist as is Pete’s Choice (Dr Pepper). the cola was…well.. down the drain. i really got this for sparkling water but the flavors were gross so i’m trying flavors from a different company before i decide to keep or return it. I wish I had this when my kids were still home.

  17. Bill Says:

    im confused. on the paid programming, it shows them making bootleg coke, orange soda???????????? that’s not pure water!

  18. Hana Says:

    Stephen, what is your latest comment on this machine?

  19. Emma Says:

    Where is the best blace to buy the soda stream???

  20. Corey Selman Says:

    To see a envronmentally green soda making system go to http://www.mypopsoda.com Here we tell you how you can make healthy soda from ingredients in your kitchen cabinet.

  21. Mattie Wilmore Says:

    WOW! I must say I was highly upset with the Sodastream product. I brought the Sodastream about a month ago (I tried the 30 day free trial). The commercial I saw said that if you don’t like it you can send it back and get a full refund and your shipping and handling. I didn’t like the soda because it was made with splenda and tasted artificial. To this day I am waiting on my refund and have been for weeks! I WILL NEVER BUY FROM THIS COMPANY AGAIN!!!!!!!

  22. Chris Mc Says:

    I’ve been using one of these daily for 1.5 years. I typically just use it to make plain old carbonated water but would like to try it with a tea syrup, too. A couple of things I’ll add from my experience:

    – Some of the carbonators use 110 liter CO2 bottles which of course last almost twice as long. If you’ll really use the thing, then save yourself some effort and get these.
    – The Williams and Sonoma stores won’t replace the 110 liter CO2 bottles with refills, only 60 liter. Its a pain, but if you rotate two 110 liter bottles, you easily have 3-4 months to go through the refill process through the mail.
    – The also sell 0.5 liter bottles, not just 1 liter. The upfront costs for both bottles are expensive, but if you like the product, they’ll pay for themselves before too long. I use 6 of these and rotate them. The reason for the expiration date, keeping them out of the sunlight, no dishwashers, and not washing them with hot water (luke warm only) is to maintain the integrity of the plastic and prevent them from blowing up under the pressure of the carbonation process. So you can imagine that they’re probably being a bit on the cautious side to proactively defend against lawsuits.
    – The soda mixes are half sugar, half splenda. They also sell diet soda mixes that are all splenda. They aren’t bad, but I prefer the plain water. I thought the flavor essences tasted okay, but its a pain to get just a few drops out without them running down the sides of the essence bottle, making my fridge sticky over time.
    – If you live in a big area, they use a courier to drop off the new CO2 bottles and pick up the old. It works just fine if you follow the instructions and leave the empties outside as soon as you put the refill order in.
    – You can’t carbonate water with syrup already in it because it will make a giant mess (think if those Mentos and Diet Coke videos). Sodastream says it will break the carbonators. The reason is that there’s a long thin needle type object that injects the CO2 into the water. If it gets coated in sugar, it probably loses its ability to turn the CO2 into tiny bubbles for maximum absorption by the water. So you could probably carbonate non-sweatened tea, but if you did it day after day, the tea-gunk buildup might cause it to stop working. So a tea syrup after-the-fact is probably the best way to go.

    Hope that info helps…

  23. kathy lipscombe Says:

    i need to order 3 110 liter carb. refills. I live in Gladstone Oregon, so if there is a store near by i can take emtpies in and get full ones please let me know. Name and address of store/ Or please give me a phone number I can order from. Thank you

  24. kathy lipscombe Says:

    I need to order 3 110 carb. refills. Please heip

  25. Whit Says:

    I could not Live with out this machine!

  26. Lynn Barkema Says:

    My nephew, neice and I just got one and we loved it! My nephew goesthrough morethan a case of soda a week, and while my neice and I don’t drink nearly that much, I am an iced tea lover.

    We haven’t come to the re-ordering part yet, but excpect to. We tried the peach tea. I liked it, my nephew did not. It was not diet, so I will have to try some of the diet-flavored tea syrups they have, and see how they do, as I am diabetic.

    Anyway, so far it is great!

  27. Jeremy Says:

    I’m unclear what happens if I carbonate herbal tea — does anyone know? In particular I’m thinking of hibiscus and mint tea.

    There are several product warnings about only carbonating pure water, but they don’t say *why*…

  28. Mary Says:

    I get my refill Co cartridges at Bed Bath and Beyond for the refills, I pay $12.99 plus tax per canister! Hope this helps!

  29. jtarheel Says:

    I tried something new with my Soda Stream. Most people have given up on Sun tea, due to the chance of sickness. I have been making Sun tea, but in the fridge. One day I had the idea of mixing the two. I had a half bottle of sparkling water left in a bottle, so I put a Celestial Seasonings Mixed Berry tea bag in the bottle and left it over night. Next day, a little Stevia in a glass, I poured the concoction in…. tasted great.

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