It’s hard not to know about Sodastream. For many years, they’ve worked their way into the national consciousness, whether through positive means such as strategic advertising, or through controversial stories in the news about their manufacturing locations in the West Bank. Along the way, Sodastream has become the international standard for fresh, homemade sodas. And I’ve been a fan.
I’ve been a huge proponent of the Sodastream brand, and I’ve promoted their products to friends and strangers alike. Even if the cost was pretty high (about 83 cents per liter using their sodas and carbonators), I still felt the freedom of making sodas as you needed them was ultimately worth it.
Later, I figured out how to “make my own” CO2 by crushing dry ice, and the cost came down considerably to about 55 cents per liter. But the one thing I could never escape was the Sodastream syrups, which, in spite of their recent increases, were still the best value. A 16.9-ounce container made about 50 servings, or 12 liters, and used to cost $4.99. That was just over 40 cents per liter. Then they jumped to $5.99 for the same container – about 50 cents per liter.
But then they got really “creative.”
Sodastream phased out their old containers and replaced them with a more sleek looking package. Sure, they’re still 16.9 ounces, but they no longer make 50 servings. That amount dropped to 29, or about seven liters. That’s up to about 86 cents per liter – just about a 40 percent decrease in servings. That means that Sodastream, without warning, increased their customers’ costs by 40 percent, on top of the previous 20 percent increase. In the span of just a few years, Sodastream has more than doubled the cost of their syrups, while pretending that everything they’ve done is an improvement.
But that’s where their customers have greatly disagreed. I haven’t tried any of the new syrups – and that’s what they essentially are. You simply can’t decrease servings in an identical-sized container without changing the formula. And the customers are noticing. They can tell that the sodas they’ve loved for years taste drastically different. Go to their website and look at the reviews of the new syrups. The average review is well under two stars and very close to one star. One of my favorite syrups was the original sugar-free pink grapefruit. The new formula is apparently revolting to many. Most people complain of a “peppery after-taste.” I don’t know about you, but pepper is not one of the flavors I look for in a fruit-flavored soda.
Because of this, I’ve started looking in alternative directions for soda flavors. My first effort is Prairie Moon, which sells Rio soda concentrates. When you buy 12 concentrates at a time, you can get them for about $4 per bottle, including shipping. Each bottle will make a quart of syrup, but it takes three times as much syrup to flavor a liter Sodastream bottle. Even counting that dilution, and adding the cost of using your own sweetener, you can make your own sodas for about 55 cents per liter (if you’re also “making” your own CO2 with dry ice).
The best thing about the Rio concentrates is that your flavor options are greatly expanded. I’m looking forward to trying out sarsaparilla – a traditional soda fountain favorite that my daughter loves, but that is incredibly hard to find. So far, all I’ve made is their basic cola, using Splenda. And it’s really not bad at all. In fact, it’s pretty good. And it’s a lot better than paying double the cost for a Sodastream formula that online reviewers don’t like. (My only regret is that they don’t have a Dr. Pepper – or Dr. Pete at Sodastream – alternative.)
So, if you’re feeling disrespected and used by Sodastream, I’d definitely suggest looking in a different direction. Send a message to them that your loyalty and money can’t be taken for granted. And along the way, find a way to save some cash and maybe even find some new favorite flavors.
If you want to cut your costs – check out these links:
Sodastream original pink grapefruit: https://www.sodastreamusa.com/diet-pink-grapefruit-p123.aspx
Sodastream new pink grapefruit: https://www.sodastreamusa.com/waters-zeros-pink-grapefruit-zero-calorie-p764.aspx
Prairie Moon: http://www.prairiemoon.biz
How to refill Sodastream carbonators with dry ice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YouxAodQXv8
Copyright © 2015 Doug DeBolt.