If you’re considering pickup up a custom soda drinks maker for your home, you’ve got two main choices: SodaStream or DrinkMate.
While SodaStream has been around for quite some time, DrinkMate has only recently appeared on the scene and has brought a new, innovating design to the competition.
They use a special fizz infuser part in place of a set of grasping teeth to hold a water bottle in place.
SodaStream soda makers are a little easier to use since they don’t require an extra fizz infuser part to function.
You can slot a bottle into place more quickly and easily than with DrinkMate machines.
But DrinkMate soda makers have a slight advantage in that they are a little easier to clean up since there’s less of a chance of soda spilling onto the counter when you overfill.Neither machine requires batteries for operation, and both produce carbonated beverages of about the same fizziness.
In addition, both soda makers are meant for use on a countertop, although DrinkMate has a much more portable model that is designed for use during camping trips or backyard barbecues.
DrinkMate’s machines are also customizable between three different colors whereas SodaStream only ever comes in its iconic black color.
Overall, both machines are great for soda enthusiasts. But there is a clear winner between them for most users in terms of price and other aspects.
Let’s examine how things compare in more detail. Stay with it.
Soda Maker Design
To begin, let’s take a look at the overall design of both types of soda maker machines.
As the DrinkMate only has one regular model for household use, we’ll use the standard SodaStream Fizzi, its basic model, for direct comparison.
They both have the same overall shape: they’re long machines with a place for the bottle at the front and a concealed plate at the back that hides where the carbonating cylinder is supposed to fit.
The SodaStream soda maker is both a little shorter and a little wider than the DrinkMate.
This is because the latter soda maker requires a little extra height to fit a few more parts into its apparatus for CO2 infusion.
They both weigh about the same and even have a similar, sleek appearance.
The buttons for both machines are also located at their tops.
You can get the DrinkMate in up to three different colors while the SodaStream model is limited to black.Opening the backs of both machines to install a carbonating cylinder is almost identical.
You pull apart a backplate and slot in a carbonating cylinder, of which 14 ounces is the standard size.
You twist the carbonating cylinder into place so that it slots into a release valve that forms a tight seal to prevent CO2 gas from escaping and funnel the gas into a bottle of water.
There are a few differences in the placement of the water bottle.
SodaStream machines require you to slot a long carbonating tube into your water bottle and press the bottle against a front-facing plate.
Done properly, the bottle will slot into the front of the machine and sometimes be elevated an inch or so above the ground once the cap of the bottle is captured by the machine’s teeth.
The DrinkMate soda machine requires you to fit a “fizz infuser” part atop the proprietary water bottle before you can slot it into the greater machine apparatus.
This is what necessitates the slightly taller height of the machine. The fizz infuser fits directly into the front of the machine and locks the bottle into place.
Your bottle doesn’t hover over the countertop at all.
Both soda makers use 1 L plastic bottles as their standard receptacles. Because DrinkMate is newer to the market, they don’t have nearly as many bottles compared to SodaStream.
In addition, SodaStream has dishwasher-safe glass carafes that you can use in place of standard plastic bottles, giving soda lovers an extra choice.
SodaStream uses its own proprietary brand of CO2 cylinders that can be refilled at participating stores for a lower price.
They also have a remote refill program where you can send in your old bottles and get new ones without having to reach a physical location yourself.
DrinkMate also has 14-ounce refillable CO2 cylinders for their own brand. However, these are virtually identical to the ones used by SodaStream.As a result, you can feel free to use SodaStream’s CO2 cylinders with your DrinkMate machine if you have changed brands and don’t want to throw away the CO2 cylinders you might still have in reserve.
Ease of Use
Both soda makers are easy to use overall, but there are a few differences in their operations.
The biggest difference is the inclusion of the fizz infuser that is required with the DrinkMate machine.
This infuser is screwed onto the top of the brand water bottles.
The bottle is specifically designed to fit with the fizz infuser, which is shaped like a small canister about the size of your hand.
The canister is then screwed into the bottom of the soda maker machine nozzle.
CO2 is funneled from the carbonated cylinder through the fizz infuser and into the bottle.
By contrast, SodaStream machines only require you to slot a bottle of water into the appropriate place, then push a button to begin carbonation.
SodaStream has a slight advantage over DrinkMate as a result.
While you aren’t supposed to use other bottles for carbonation with your soda maker, you can do so with a SodaStream if you so choose. Such rule-bending is much more difficult with the DrinkMate’s design.
In addition, having an extra part means that there’s one more thing that can break with the DrinkMate.
However, the fizz infuser makes cleanup a lot easier when compared to the SodaStream.
The chance of soda overflowing onto your counter is nonexistent, even though both soda makers request that you only fill their water bottles up to a pre-marked line.
If you go over this line, SodaStream machines have no defense against fizzy water flowing out of the top and spilling sticky soda all over your counter.
The fizz infuser makes this a lot more contained with the DrinkMate.
The infuser part doesn’t run on fuel or wear out very quickly.
It should be cleaned regularly as most soda particles will come into contact with this part of the DrinkMate machine.
The fizz infuser can break, though, or become clogged up with sticky soda remnants.
If it ever stops functioning entirely, you’ll have to purchase a new one from the DrinkMate website before you can use your soda maker again.
Both soda makers only require you to slot your water bottle into place and press a single button to begin carbonation.Removing both types of bottles or carbonating cylinders is as easy as twisting and pulling and doesn’t require a lot of strength.
Both the DrinkMate and most SodaStream machines do not require electricity or batteries for safe operation.
There are a few higher-end SodaStream machines that require an electrical connection for operation, but these are the exception.
Quality of Carbonation
The quality of carbonation between both types of soda makers is virtually identical.
Because they both use 14-ounce canisters of compressed CO2 gas, the carbonation that you receive for your next beverage should be extremely similar.
The only differences that may arise will be the result of faults within individual CO2 canisters or the machines themselves.
Both machines use a long nozzle that extends down into the bottle of water to ensure that CO2 is deposited deep into the liquid.
The CO2 will spread throughout the bottle and infuse itself into the water until the water is totally saturated, at which point no further carbonation is necessary.
Both bottles also run for about the same amount of time during their standard carbonation cycle.
You can press the carbonation button up to three times on both machines if you want some additional fizziness or want to push the carbonation level of your beverage to the max.
However, SodaStream does offer extra machines that allow you to fine-tune your carbonation levels beyond that offered by the basic DrinkMate.Their Aqua Fizz model, for example, offers up to three levels of carbonation that are preprogrammed within the machine .
In this way, you don’t have to hold down the button for a set amount of time in order to get your beverage just as fizzy as you like it.
Overall, there isn’t much of a difference between these two machines in this regard.
In terms of portability, both SodaStream and DrinkMate are very similar as well. Both standard machines don’t weigh too much and neither of them requires electricity for operation.
You do need to take one extra part along with you if you decide on the DrinkMate, as the fizz infuser is a required component for the machine to work.However, DrinkMate does offer an alternative model of soda maker called the Spritzer.
This portable drink maker is shaped like an electric tool, so you can use it one-handed.
A large handle is attached to a big trigger, and you can insert a smaller, 10-ounce bottle of water at the end of the Spritzer barrel.
Using the same fizz infuser as before, you can twist the bottle into place at the end of the barrel and pull the trigger to deposit carbonation right into that beverage.
This portable soda maker only takes specific sizes of both bottles and carbonating cylinders specifically developed for it.
However, this is an excellent solution if you want to bring your custom sodas on a camping trip or simply take them with you on a cross-country adventure.
You can also purchase a Spritzer kit that comes with everything you need right on the DrinkMate website.
It comes with two of the 3-ounce carbonating cylinders that are designed for use with the machine.
Because of the smaller size and lighter weight of the Spritzer, DrinkMate is clearly the superior choice between the two drink makers when it comes to portability.
SodaStream machines can be taken with you while you travel, but they aren’t designed for that kind of function.
There aren’t any small SodaStream machines, as each of their models is designed to be used on a stable countertop.
For those of you that do pick up a SodaStream then check out my practical travel tips for taking it with you on the move.
When it comes to variety, SodaStream is the clear winner.
They’ve been in the custom soda business for much longer, and it shows.
They offer a huge variety of flavored syrups that you can add to any carbonated bottle of water to almost instantly get a beverage of your choosing.The flavored syrups are extremely potent. You only need to add a few drops of syrup to a regular litre bottle of water to get a full taste of each type.
The flavored syrups are easy to store in a pantry or refrigerator and have lengthy lifespans, so they don’t expire very quickly.
The flavored syrups also last a long time since you don’t need to use too many drops for a full bottle of custom soda.
You can also find all of the flavors on the SodaStream website. Ordering a variety of flavors or a lot of your favorite extremely easy.
There’s no doubt that those who like to try lots of different types of custom sodas will prefer a SodaStream machine.
In contrast, DrinkMate doesn’t offer any proprietary syrups on its website or through any attached businesses.
This drink maker is designed for making more than carbonated plain water however.
Their website does list several recipes for making your own flavored fizzy beverages.
For instance, there’s a recipe for a fruit soda that has you combine regular fruit juice with a specified amount of carbonated water.
These recipes are nice to have, but they’re a little more complicated to fulfill and they require you to measure out your own amounts of other liquids and ingredients. Overall, the SodaStream syrup method is a lot easier to use and there’s a lot more variety.
You can carbonate beverages other than water with both types of machines, but neither company recommends this.
Carbonating beverages other than water can result in a mess on the countertop or clogging of the carbonator tube.
Still, carbonating relatively clear beverages like tea or lemonade isn’t likely to cause much harm. Don’t try carbonating milk though – here’s why!
Finally, let’s take a look at the overall costs of each machine.
- SodaStream’s basic Fizzi model typically costs around $89.99 for the beginner pack.
- This pack comes with a 1 L water bottle and a single carbonating cylinder, plus a three-year manufacturer warranty.
- DrinkMate’s beginner option costs typically costs around $114.99 and also comes with a single 1 L water bottle, plus a 0.5 L water bottle.
- It also comes with a single carbonating cylinder and a fizz infuser, plus a two-year manufacturer warranty.
As you can see, SodaStream’s beginner option is a much better choice as you only get an extra 0.5 L water bottle and the required fizz infuser for DrinkMate’s higher asking price.
But what about lifetime costs?
Once again, SodaStream reigns supreme. They allow you to purchase a single 60 L carbonating cylinder for on average ~$29.99.
- DrinkMate only offers a twin pack of two 60 L carbonating cylinders for on average $68.99.
- While it’s nice to be able to pick up two cylinders at once, the cost per cylinder is still higher than that of SodaStream’s. In addition,
- SodaStream has a gas exchange program where you can receive new carbonating cylinders for around $14.99 if you turn in your old cylinders.
- They even provide you with a prepaid UPS label, so you don’t pay the cost of shipping.
Therefore, if you do decide to go with the DrinkMate soda maker, we would recommend using the SodaStream carbonating cylinders, as these will fit into the DrinkMate machine but cost less overall.
There’s no difference in the type of carbonation produced by either cylinder.
It’s simply a more cost-effective option.
Plastic bottle costs are identical across both companies.
They sell new liter bottles in packs of two for on average $19.99, and both also sell packs of two 0.5 L bottles for around the $16.99 mark.SodaStream has more options in the form of its glass bottles.
But for the purposes of head-to-head comparison, both companies are basically equal.
You do have to pay extra for the SodaStream syrups, but taken point-for-point, their soda makers and accessories are cheaper than those offered by DrinkMate.
For me, they’re a better short-term and long-term investment for custom soda lovers.
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