I am the first to admit that I have a huge addiction to soda. I don't drink coffee so for me this is my one major addiction. I like to drink soda at least once a day, which obviously isn't that great for my figure, nor am I setting a great example for my kids. When I came across SodaStream I was really excited because I not only did I find a machine that makes soda but its healthier, cheaper, greener and easier to store than regular soda I buy at the store.
SodaStream Review - The Penguin
I was thrilled to be able to review the Penguin by SodaStream. This model is the first one by SodaStream that offers glass carafes instead of plastic ones. For me, this was huge because I love things that are dishwasher safe. The glass bottles are also easily hand-washed as well. I just know that if I had gotten the the plastic bottles my husband would automatically have thrown them in the dishwasher because he refuses to hand wash anything. In addition to the glass carafes the Penguin is my favorite model because of its sleek and modern design. It fits in seamlessly with today's kitchens.
The Penguin Features:
- customized carbonation level
- easy to clean
- automatic access gas release mechanism
- minimal space usage on counter tops
For review I received the Penguin as well as several different soda flavors plus a few sparkling water flavor samples to try out. The Penguin comes fully assembled, but I had to learn how to open the back and install the jet carbonator, which was a very simple process. I also had to learn how the remove and replace the glass carafe and properly slide and then screw on the tops for the carafes.
Once the machine was all put together I was excited to make some soda! I will say that there was a learning curve to preparing the soda the way that you like it. For me, it took me about four or five tries before I figured out how I like to make it. On the back of the Penguin there is a lever, pulling this lever determines how much carbonation is added to the water. According to the directions you want to push down on the horn until you hear two whistles for a lightly carbonated drink or three or four whistles, which produces a stronger carbonation. I like the stronger carbonation myself for the sodas.
Once the water is carbonated the pressure release button needs to be pressed to release the excess gas. I love the hissing sound it makes when the carbon dioxide is escaping! Once you remove the carafe from the stainless steel flask you are then ready to add the flavoring.
One thing that was a little frustrating for me was there wasn't any instruction as to how much syrup needed to go into the carafe. My first try I didn't put enough and the root beer I made tasted funny. I eventually figured out that I was supposed to add a full cap full of the syrup to the carbonated water. Once I figured it all out I started trying out several of the flavors.
Like many parents I don't like to give my kids soda but occasionally I do as a treat. Its mostly because I don't want my boys getting as addicted to soda as I am. The soda flavors from SodaStream are made with Splenda, not sugar, so they have less sugar, carbs and calories than regular store bought soda. I love knowing that my kids can have soda as a treat and they don't realize the difference between what's in the can versus what came out of the SodaStream. My son's favorite flavors are orange and lemon-lime. He drinks them all the time. I like to fill small bottles and send them in his school lunch too, he loves that he gets to drink soda at school.
I grew up on soda, my favorite being Coke. I tried the cola flavor with an open mind because being that I am a soda connoisseur I wanted to know if I would like the flavor. In all honesty, it doesn't taste like Coke, but it wouldn't because its made with Splenda. It is palatable and I could definitely drink it as a substitute. I really want to try the cherry cola flavor but I haven't found available in the stores near me. Overall I would say that its a great, healthier and cheaper option if you are looking to cutback or set an example for your children.
I really like that when I run out of the syrup flavors I can go to Macy's (my favorite place to shop!) and get some more. It is also available at the Kohl's across town from me. The bottles of syrup average around $5 per bottle. It was cheaper at Kohl's by about 50 cents but for me its not worth the drive so save the 50 cents because Macy's is pretty much right down the street from my house.
There is only one thing about the machine that really bugs me. When the Alco2Jet Carbonator is empty there are very little options for refilling it. I can't purchase a new one at Kohl's or Macy's but there are a few locations where I can exchange my empty for a full one. Unfortunately for me the closest one to my house is about 25 - 30 minutes away. You can also order exchange carbonators from the SodaStream online store. It is recommended that you have three carbonators on hand so that if one runs out you have a replacement while you are waiting to get the next one. The cost for exchanging two empty 60L carbonators for two full ones is $29.99. In my case however I will need to order 1 spare and 1 exchange because my husband threw away one of the empty carbonators because he didn't realize that I could exchange them for refills. The cost for 1 spare and 1 exchange is $39.99.
The Penguin - Pros vs. Cons
- A healthier way to enjoy soda - no aspartame
- I don't feel guilty when my kids drink it
- Several flavors to choose from
- Easy to use, easy to store
- Dishwasher safe carafes
- Cheaper than store bought soda
- Flavors can be found at local retailers as well as online
- Less packaging than store bought soda - reduces your carbon footprint
- It doesn't taste exactly like store bought soda
- Extra glass carafes are not readily available in stores (plastic ones are) - but can be purchased online
- The carbonators need refilling and that is expensive
- When the carbonators need refilling you are out of luck if you don't have an extra one handy because it is not something that you can readily purchase at a moment's notice
- If you prefer to purchase flavors at your local store the selection is limited
Overall I have to say that it is a very cool machine. I love being able to offer soda to my family and friends that is healthier. It would be a great addition for a weight loss plan for someone like me that loves soda but hates the extra calories. My son loves the soda and I don't have to cringe anymore when I let him indulge. I definitely recommend trying any of the SodaStream soda makers if you are looking for a great new way to enjoy soda. A soda maker would make an excellent gift as well. The SodaStream line of soda makers are available starting at $99.95.
*I share my 100% honest thoughts and opinions in all posts. I received the Penguin from SodaStream in exchange for writing an honest review. Please refer to my disclosure policy or email me if you have any questions.*