Mods: please move this if this is the wrong forum.
Is it possible (meaning, for a reasonable cost) to have a soda fountain dispenser in your home?
I’m not sure if soda fountain dispenser is the right term (it probably isn’t), but what I want is one of those things you see at fast food restaurants and 7-11’s that allow you to dispense soft drinks into a cup. Of course, the one I’d want in my home would be smaller than the large ones you see at McDonald’s, say.
I think a lot of the size in commercial ones is actually the ice maker. I’d be happy just to use my refrigerator’s ice maker if I wanted ice.
Does anyone know if anyone sells these things for your home? Also, what would the issues be about having one in your home?
Yes! In fact, I have one, and it has not only saved me tons of $$$ over time, it’s hella cool to take to parties and barbecues.
It’s not quite the same as a full-blown soda fountain, but those are really messy anyway (I know, I had one for a while) and a pain in the butt to deal with day-to-day.
What you want is a Soda Club home soda maker. I have the Fountain Jet; the Edition 1 model looks sleeker, but they’re pretty much the same. They don’t require electricity or refrigeration, they’re simple enough to use my 6 year old (at the time) had no problems, and they make great soda.
Krakow over at MSNBC had a review, which is how I learned about it the first time.
I’ve had mine for almost two years and have yet to have any trouble with it, and I use it at least every other day. I can’t recommend it enough.
As far as issues go, the only potential ones I see are:
The cartridge could explode. This is (IMO) unlikely, and considerably less likely than the same event happening to a jury-rigged commercial version, which is pretty much your only other option, and
You might feel stuck into buying only from Soda Club.
I can’t reassure you as for point 1, but I don’t consider it a risk unless you’re hammering on it or throwing it in the fireplace or something.
As for point 2, the cool thing is you can use your own syrups (italian soda flavor bottles work well) if you like, or just regular fruit juice, or experiment. You’re only locked in for the CO2 cartridge, and frankly, I imagine you could find a replacement easily enough if you truly despise Soda Club. However, they’ve been nothing but polite and helpful to me and I’ve never had reason to complain.
If I ever manage to make it to a Dopefest I’ll be sure to bring it so everyone can experience it. Truly, it’s probably the only thing I’ve purchased in the past two years that I haven’t regretted in one way or another.
You will may a hard time getting Coca Cola products as they seem to require that you have a business license to buy the syrup as the distribution of the stuff is controlled by locally-operated franchises. Also, you need to plan on going through a LOT of Coke as the syrup comes in five-gallon bag-in-box containers - enough to yeild roughly 55 2-liter bottles’ worth. It’s not particularly cost-effective either - Costco sells the 5-gallon packs for $55, so you’re looking at the equivalent of a buck a bottle before you get into the gas, water filtration and the dispenser.
I’d guess that Pepsi products are similarly controlled and have a similar price breakdown.
If all you want is carbonated drinks cheaper than buying from the grocery store, or a better selection of Splenda-sweetened drinks that what’s usually at the store, take a look at “Soda Club” - it’s a countertop device for carbonating and flavoring your own drinks.
ETA: looks like I’m not the only one here that knows about Soda Club.
Bear in mind that I’ve been drinking diet – ie, NutraSweet or Splenda instead of sugar – soda for so long that I actually prefer the flavor, but, that said:
I find that the cola flavor from Soda Club is more similar to Coke than Pepsi. My wife doesn’t like it, and doesn’t like Coke in general, but does like Pepsi (and she’s not a sugar-free drinker like I am). Broadly speaking, if you follow the directions precisely you’ll wind up with a soda that is like most generic no-name sodas in the store (Safeway brand, for example).
However, that said, the advantage is that you control the flavor and CO2 proportions… and thus, you can affect both the sparkly-ness and the flavor of your drink. Want more flavor? Add more flavoring. Want fewer bubbles? Don’t ‘burp’ the jet quite so much (trust me, it makes sense after you do it or watch the video on their web site). I have yet to find anybody who can’t manufacture a drink to their liking after a couple tries. One of my friends slips me a few bucks from time to time to come over and brew up a few bottles for him to take home. He does the work, I pocket the cash and make sure to keep his flavors ‘on-tap’, as it were (the freak! He mixes the Fountain Mist and Cola flavors… shudder).
If it helps any: my wife, who is a rabid Dr. Pepper fan, has decreed that the Dr. Pepper-wannabe flavor from Soda Club outshines the original when prepared properly. I don’t like Dr. P to begin with, so I can’t add my 2c, but there’s her opinion.
ETA: I just remember another thing. The cream soda flavor? Is to DIE for. Especially if you like fizzy cream soda, which you can’t get in stores easily. We just spritz the bottle a couple extra times and it bubbles quite nicely.
I’m not actually looking for way to make “diet cola” cheaper. I find that I like the taste of soda fountain Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi better. So what I’m looking for is a way to dispense those from my home.
So I heard that I can get the syrup from Costco (in this thread or a linked-to thread). So what about the dispenser and accoutrements? Any ideas?
I read this site and this is way too much effort, work, and money for me.
So, from the replies so far, it looks like I could buy a new one for roughly $2000, or I could spend $500 - $1000 to buy all of the parts (used?) myself and put it together. This seems like way too much effort just to avoid a stop at my local 7-11.
I was hoping there would be some kind of home version available for a couple hundred bucks, but I guess not.