Does Coke out of a Freestyle machine taste bad?

I know the machines aren’t new anymore, but someone on another thread tried Mello Yello out of the machine, and that got me wondering on this topic, again.

Now, for me, Coke, regular Coke, from the Freestyle machine is horrible and doesn’t taste like Coke. Normally, I like Coke from bottle, can, or fountain (as opposed to Mountain Dew, where I don’t really care for the fountain version, but don’t know if it’s the ice or something else). But the first time I tried the Freestyle Coke, it was horrible (and smelled different). I tried again a couple more times, and tried running water for a second before to clear out any flavors left, but ultimately, I just don’t like it. But I’ve only had it from one place, and that was all within 2 weeks of them putting the machine in (several years ago).

Now, my sister had a coke from a drivethrough once and said it was horrible and then I looked up the place, and it had a Freestyle machine, but I wouldn’t think they’d use those from the drivethrough. But that was at the place next door to the place I had the awful Coke at, and they may be serviced from the same place.

I’ve seen others say the Coke is bad when I Googled for it, but I wanted opinions from SD.

Never heard of a “freestyle” machine until this thread. Googling for it suggests it is a vending machine that dispenses soda-fountain type drinks as opposed to cans or bottles. If this is the case, I’d avoid it like the plague – fountain cokes never contain much fizz compared to cans or bottles and the soda always tastes flat to me.

From the vendor’s standpoint, it is much cheaper to dispense, I’m sure.

I can only speak for Coke Zero and the new Coke Zero Sugar, which both taste really good out of the freestyle machines.

And their Mello Yello and Mello Yello Zero are even better from these machines.

I can not remember if I ever took regular Coke from one.

The “freestyle” machines (Pepsi’s got their own, too) are the ones that have a ton of different base syrups and “add-on” flavorings that get mixed at the point of dispensing. Almost all Burger King and the updated Wendy’s have them now (actually, I see them all over).

I’ve never noticed it tasting different out of these machines than any other fountain, but I have noticed there’s a huge amount of variability in fountain Coke that isn’t present in the cans/bottles. I don’t know how much of that is controllable by the vendor, things like syrup mix and carbonation levels.

Where else am I going to get diet peach Mello Yello?

There is a soda test kit that Coke provides. It is supposed to be used regularly. Alas, most locations seem to think the correct cycle for testing is measured in glacial epochs.

Regal Theaters, I’m looking at you.

I voted that they taste the same, but I’ve only used one at a - Wendy’s, I think it was - on a road trip, and it seemed fine. I also have never had a problem with soda from a fountain (vs can or bottle) in terms of carbonation level. Sometimes the soda/syrup mix is off, though, but that usually seems to be a temporary problem. Anyway, if quality from a freestyle machine varies from place to place, I don’t have enough data to determine that!

I’ve drank out of plenty of Freestyle machines and even more fountains and they both taste the same to me. Sodas out of the fountain are much better than the can, too

I worked at a Chevron in the 90’s, they did a remodel and I was there when the tech came out to set the mix of syrup and CO2.

He had a kit, I don’t remember what it looked like but I remember thinking it reminded me of the old swimming pool test kits.
He also told me there is only one correct mix and it’s enforced by contract.

The balance of syrup-ratio, CO2 pressure, temperature, ice geometry and ice temperature can make huge differences in the flavor of a soda. These things change over hours, days, weeks. Of course they will vary from one type of machine to another.

I only like Coke from the can, very cold. Never liked it any other way. I avoid drinks in general but if I use the freestyle I only get rarer versions or mix things up.

That’s been my experience as well. Fountain sodas should be comparable to a bottle or can, but I don’t think they get adjusted or maintained as often as they should (and dispensing it makes it bubble up so much that much of the fizz is lost). Freestyle machines seem to be worse still, probably because there are more variables and more adjustments.

Oddly, I don’t remember noticing this when the Freestyle machines first came out. Maybe the distributors were more conscientious about maintaining them when they were new.

I’ve never tasted a difference. It could be that the machine you got yours from wasn’t calibrated properly, or was dirty, or was running low on syrup.

If this is true, it’s somewhat disappointing that the Freestyle machine doesn’t have better sensors. It should be able to detect the pressure of the CO2 and control the flow rate of water and CO2 so the mix is always dead on. It should have a CO2 sensor that makes sure the CO2 is actually nearly pure CO2. It should have a water filter built into the machine, and a gallons counter and a water conductivity sensor, so when the filter expires the machine can detect it.

It should be self cleaning.

And, if maintenance isn’t done, it should first subtly warn the operators that they need to perform maintenance, and then shut down and refuse to dispense after an excessive amount of time has passed without fixing a fault.

Definitely different but not always bad. Our local Sheetz is ok but BK is HORRIBLE!

I have found that Coke out of the Freestyle machine usually tastes “off,” for two reasons:

  1. The ratio of syrup to soda water doesn’t seem right.
  2. Contamination by whatever syrups and sodas ran through the dispenser just previous to my drink.

It’s a nice concept but it seems to need fine-tuning.

Coca-Cola out of the Freestyle machines definitely tastes different to me, and not in a good way. I prefer it in an ice-cold can or a glass bottle (as Mexican Coke). But I’ll still go out of my way to a restaurant with a Freestyle machine, because I like ginger ale, Peach Fanta, and root beer.

Coca-Cola also tastes great out of a McDonald’s fountain.

Not a Freestyle machine but there’s a Taco Bell I live near that I always have to taste test the sodas before filling up because you never know which ones are going to be okay and which ones are going to be off somehow. Pretty sure it’s just a matter of calibration and/or maintenance.

Another factor in any fountain drink can be the water. At every place I go where the Coke tastes different, the water also tastes different.

Since the way these flavors were mixed before was after the fact, why not have a separate dispenser for the addons? Seems silly to me.

When I drank soda regularly, Coke from the freestyle-type machines usually tasted “off”. Usually not objectionable, but off nonetheless. I do recall a couple times where I dumped an entire fountain soda before purchase because it tasted nasty, and let the staff of the store know. They were about as interested in that information as you would imagine minimum-wage teenagers to be.
Anecdotal info:
I worked in a movie theater from '90 to '92. The controls for adjusting the syrup mix were right behind the fountain head covers, and were adjustable by hand. One of the theater managers used to dial the syrup mixes way back to conserve syrup, which of course made the soda taste like crap. Myself and a few of the other minimum-wage teens working there would turn the syrup mixes back up if we noticed him doing it, because we didn’t want to deal with customers complaining about crappy-tasting soda, do the paperwork to issue customer refunds, and document the cups being wasted out.