First Impressions: SodaStream Fizzi

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Fresh fizz

I love soda.  For me, there’s nothing like the simple pleasure of an ice cold soda: The little cloud of gas you see when you first open up a bottle, the sizzling sound the fizz makes, the taste, and the feel of the fizz as it goes down your throat are all wonderful.  Even the aftermath, in the form of a good belch, carries a certain appeal.  Okay, so I’m a guy. Sue me.

I received a gift card from a friend for Christmas a few weeks ago and pondered over what to purchase with it.  My friend had gifted me a card from an electronics store, which was cool, but I wasn’t really wanting for a video game or computer equipment or a new tablet, or really, anything related to technology.  What to do, what to do.  Then it hit me.  I excitedly checked their website and was delighted to find the store sold SodaStream machines.

I was less than delighted to discover that they were not in stock at any nearby stores.  No biggie, I could wait a week or two.

I have thought about getting a SodaStream for a while.  The idea of concocting my own soda flavors at home is very enticing.  Producing less waste is also nice, though I do recycle my cans.  The up-front cost of a machine kept me away, though, but thanks to my friend’s gift, I would pay less than half the cost of a SodaStream Fizzi.

I received my Fizzi, excitedly opened the package and removed the contents. It came with the unit, a CO2 bottle rated for 60 liters of soda, a one-liter carbonation bottle, what I presumed was an instruction booklet, and a coupon of some sort.

The SodaStream Fizzi stands at just over 16 inches tall, so it just fits under my kitchen cabinets.  I have to pull it out so I can press the carbonation button, but that’s a minor inconvenience.  The Fizzi doesn’t need electricity so there is no power cord to get in the way.

The carbonation bottle has a little bit of heft to it.  The fill line and expiration dates are clearly marked and the opening is fairly wide, allowing for fairly easy filling and cleaning.   Interesting note: While the bottles are marketed as being 1L bottles, filling it up to the appropriate level takes less than a liter of water.

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Seriously, that’s IT?

I was perturbed to find the booklet included with the device was full of legalese and warnings.  No instructions.  I get that SodaStream machines are supposed to be easy to use, but some guidance would have been nice.  All I got was a paper foldout with pictures that was stuck to the back of the unit.  No words, just pictures.  Okay, I guess it is that easy.  I quickly glanced at the pictures and concluded that there wasn’t much to it.

Also disappointing was the lack of any syrup.  I wondered if it was a trade-off in exchange for receiving a full bottle of CO2.  My understanding is that SodaStream machines originally came with a very small CO2 bottle that didn’t last very long and made people unhappy.  That said, I was aware of that shortcoming coming in, so I took the liberty of purchasing a bottle of SodaStream’s Diet Cola flavor as well as a bottle of water enhancer.

The first step was to install the CO2 canister, which was simple enough.  First, I removed the seal and the plastic cap from the canister.  Then, I removed the back panel of the Fizzi, screwed the canister into the the machine, and replaced the panel.  So far, so good!

I rinsed out the carbonation bottle, filled it with the appropriate amount of water, and snapped it into the machine.  I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to screw it in or what, but it appeared to stay in place so I figured it was okay.  I then held my breath, firmly pressed the big carbonation button at the top of the unit, and water sprayed everywhere.

Remember that quick glance from a few paragraphs ago?  I neglected to notice the correct method of inserting the bottle, which is to pull out a plastic backrest at an angle and then insert the bottle.  At this point, I was a little gunshy after getting water all over my countertop and gingerly added a second shot of fizz without spilling any more water.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure how much to fizz the water at that point, so my first bottle ended up not quire as fizzy as I would have liked.  I’ve read online that screwing  up your first bottle is a common occurrence, so it seems I’m just as silly as everyone else.

Future bottles went off without a hitch.  The Diet Cola flavor I purchased tasted okay but adding water enhancer was much tastier.  I have yet to try my hand at making my own flavors but will likely look online for some recipes before I get too adventurous.

Even after making a few bottles, I’m still not quite completely sure when I’ve fizzed the water enough.  A sticker on the top of the unit says to fizz until you hear three puffs, but I don’t always hear them.  I have yet to under-fizz another bottle, though, so I’m apparently doing it enough…or maybe too much?  Time will tell how many bottles I get out of that 60L container.

After getting over the initial (messy) learning curve, I’m enjoying my SodaStream Fizzi.  I’ve already purchased another pair of 1-liter bottles and look forward to eventually mixing up my own fizzy waters.  With a start-up cost of $100 for the Fizzi and a pair of extra carbonation bottles; SodaStream isn’t exactly the most cost-effective solution compared to buying off-the-shelf, and as anyone who has tasted a Dr. Pepper knock-off will attest, their flavors won’t quite match up to the originals.  The value of a SodaStream to you will depend on how much you enjoy soda.  Would I have bought one without that gift card?  Probably not, but as a fan of fizz, I’m glad I did.

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