It sat in my room, just staring. One cold, gimlet eye, a sleek body with fins that slip out of your fingers. A sharp, pointed beak. The potential to explode.For about a week before opening the SodaStream Penguin, I was terrified. It wasn’t that I was afraid of exploding my dorm room and the surrounding dorms, or afraid of screwing up the machine, or afraid of failing my family in bringing them cost-effective, tasty beverages, but the penguin was judging me. I wasn’t worthy of its presence.
Just opening the Penguin, I felt like my dorm’s property value went up. This thing belongs in a hotel. It’s all curves and no angles and has a stainless steel chamber and comes with carafes. Where the hell do you see carafes in a dorm? I threw out my plastic Fiestaware and Dixie cups and embraced the new era with this, my cold, chilly lover.So, the logistics. The Penguin comes with carbon dioxide, which is inert, so the possibility of me making a flamethrower was out of the question. It’s extremely easy to assemble. I’m sure a real penguin could do it if it had opposable thumbs, too. It comes with that and the carafes, and SodaStream also sent over 19 flavors, too, for me to try out.The usage is also really facile. It’s just a matter of filling up the carafe and releasing the carbon dioxide into the glass, and then mixing in whatever flavor you want. I’m not sure if the carafes are the ideal beverage containers for me, personally- while they are sleek, they’re a little bulky and pretty heavy, and I can’t see myself carrying them around and using them in any other setting than at home as a regular drinking receptacle.I couldn’t try all 19 flavors on my own, so I enlisted the help of Swagger to taste test and tackle the beast. We took these photos in the dorm kitchen and tried it all out. So we already knew that it was really easy to use, but how did the flavors taste? We tried 9 of the flavors, to give you a broad spectrum of what they’re like.(clockwise: energy, orange mango, fountain mist, root beer, Pete’s Choice)Fountain Mist was SodaStream’s personal version of Mountain Dew, and it was pretty good. It was definitely the same color as Mountain Dew, and the flavor was pretty accurate. It had a nice lemon and lime flavor, and we liked it. 6
Orange was definitely our favorite flavor out of all of them. It had a clean, crisp taste, and just felt fresher than some of the other ones. It was really sweet, but not too sweet so as to make you feel like your teeth are rotting out. It tasted like the candy jelly slices I eat at Passover. A definite winner, and better than some of the orange sodas you can get in stores. 10
With the orange, we also had orange mango. The flavor was a little more subtle than the orange, but the mango was mellow and tasty. I thought this one was tasty, but perhaps a little too sweet on the tooth. Still a definite winner, and especially nice for those of us who like strange soda flavors! 8
Next, we tried the lemonade. This was another favorite, because it tasted just like my local soda company’s lemonade equivalent, a gassosa. The lemon flavor isn’t bitter at all and is, like the mango, a little more subtle. This can also be remedied if one likes more or less flavor, because you can add syrup to taste. I personally preferred the little, one serving bottles for easier clean up and mixing, but it’s all a matter of preference. 9After that was the Pete’s Choice. This one was a little strange. As Swagger so eloquently put it, “Dr. Pepper has his doctorate in soda making, Mr. Pibb has his bachelor’s, and Pete didn’t get his GED.” This wasn’t our favorite. The syrup was black, and the flavor was just off. 2
Root beer was up next. Root beer is also an easy flavor to screw up, but SodaStream pulled this one off really well. The flavor has just a hint of vanilla, and is really frothy and refreshing. I could see this making an excellent root beer float. 9Finishing up the sodas was the energy flavor. This is basically the equivalent of a Red Bull, and it tasted identical. Unfortunately, nobody likes Red Bull because it tastes like robot piss. It was still a valiant effort on the part of the flavor as far as accuracy went, and it did end up giving us energy to lift microwaves, so it had its merits. 3
After those, we tried the MyWater flavor essences, which are additives to the sparkling waters that you can use as flavor syrups. They’re highly concentrated, so a very small amount goes a long way. We tried the berry first, and it was medicinal and didn’t taste like berries at all, or might have tasted like the chemical equivalent of berry flavor. It was not tasty and even when titrated with other flavors, was still easy to detect. 0
The orange flavor fared much better. While I definitely lean towards the side of sweeter drinks, this was refreshing, like going to a hotel and drinking the water with the orange slices in it. It was just enough of a hint of orange for me to want to drink more, and the carbonation was nice and bubbly. A nice alternative to the orange soda, and the presentation is very classy. 7With the presentation and ease of the machine itself, and flavors, I think it’s a nice addition to a home where people drink a lot of soda. I know I’ll get a lot of usage out of this machine. I think it’s great for parties, and is a fun novelty item for families to own. If the price is daunting, make tabs of your soda intake with cans and see if it’s worth the amount you regularly spend. I rated based on the flavors and presentation.