The first thing I bought when I stopped drinking alcohol was a Drinkmate OmniFizz. I use it daily, and recommend it, but there are some things you should know before buying one yourself.
If you are thinking about buying a home carbonation system like Drinkmate, SodaStream, or SodaSense, here’s what I experienced, researched and discovered along the way.
- Drinkmate OmniFizz carbonates any liquid, not just water. It’s great for experimenting with new cocktails, not just carbonating water or making sodas.
- Drinkmate uses a standardized CO2 canister nozzle, not a proprietary design like SodaStream does, so you have more options for how you refill the CO2.
- I recommend getting a 2 or 3 CO2 canister bundle if you plan to use a mail-in canister refill service. Refill orders require at least two canisters to be mailed in at a time.
- I use SodaSense for refilling my CO2 canisters. They offer better discounts and an affiliate program to help offset costs. Use my link for $15 off your first refill.
- Refilling CO2 costs about $20 per canister and will carbonate about 60 times.
- Carbonation bottles have an expiration date and should be replaced every couple years.
- Drinkmate OmniFizz feels cheap and I had to buy a new fizz infuser since the one in the package did not keep a proper seal. I am concerned about it breaking.
- You may have the water turn very bitter. All carbonation machines seem susceptible. Swapping your CO2 canister and letting it rest fixed it for me, but you will definitely want an extra canister to do so, if experienced.
- Overall, I use my Drinkmate OmniFizz daily and recommend it.
How to Setup and Use Your Drinkmate OmniFizz
Why Drinkmate OmniFizz?
On my home carbonation radar was SodaStream, solely because a friend owned one and loved it. But the YouTuber at How To Drink had mentioned his Drinkmate in a couple videos and said one thing that sold me, “unlike other machines which can only carbonate water, this one can carbonate pretty much any liquid, like juices, so it’s great for creating all sorts of cocktails…” SOLD!
Why not SodaStream?
I’m not sure about their full line of products now, but as far as I knew they could only carbonate water. I wanted to invent new AF cocktails. The Drinkmate was more the use case I had hoped for by being able to carbonate any liquid, not just water. SodaStream was recently acquired by Pepsi, so I do expect their product line to increase as they attempt to dominate the market. However, currently, they are also transitioning their CO2 canisters to a proprietary design, forcing you to deal with them end-to-end. I expect the usual mega-corporation market share grabs and trying to lock you into their ecosystem type maneuvers will continue even more. If you like their offerings, then they might be for you, but the smaller players, like Drinkmate and SodaSense, are sticking with universal nozzles and accepting each others canisters in their exchange programs. That might change, but for now Drinkmate offers the consumer more options and freedom.
Consumer Reports rated SodaSense the best for carbonating juices
So, I didn’t exactly do the most thorough research before buying a Drinkmate. Some random guy on the Internet said he liked his and I bought one. (eh hem… hello, wonderful reader) But I thought I’d do more research when writing this… for you.
I found the Consumer Reports write up on soda machines and was a little concerned I bought the wrong machine when they rated SodaSense’s machine best for juices. The deuce you say!
SodaSense is… interesting, shall we say. Located in Green Bay, Wisconsin, as opposed to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Drinkmate is located, their machine looks shockingly similar to Drinkmate’s. Like… minus the logo… exactly the same. The company info is pretty minimal other than a patent filing for their exchange program, more on that later. SodaSense has a PDF of their manual on their website. I’d like you to compare my Drinkmate manual to the SodaSense PDF manual I pulled up on my phone.
Yeah… um… a wee tad similar, right?! So, I’m only throwing out guesses here, but I’m leaning towards SodaSense was setup as a fake competitor by Drinkmate in the market, or has some type of resell/franchise deal to sell unbranded Drinkmate machines either from Drinkmate or a Chinese supplier. Interestingly, Drinkmate (formally i-Drink) owns the patents for the machine, but the patents seem to be first filed in China in 2015, then US 2017. I’m not a patent expert, but I wonder if Drinkmate was given US rights, but perhaps SodaSense imports directly from China? All unfounded speculation… but the machines and manual are identical, which is worth knowing. So, if you buy a SodaSense machine (either directly or via Amazon)… you are effectively getting a Drinkmate machine. It’s odd Consumer Reports didn’t notice the simularity. Even their ratings of the two machines were identical.
SodaSense, though, appears to be focusing their business on the canister refills and have really streamlined the process. More on that below.
My Drinkmate OmniFizz And Cost Breakdown
I bought my Drinkmate through Amazon (which is actually sold by and shipped from Drinkmate), but you can also order directly from Drinkmate or find them at any number of other retailers, like Walmart or even Home Depot. There are a couple different options in bundles to choose from, the differences mainly being the number of included CO2 canisters. I purchased the single canister combo with an additional small bottle*. It was on the lower end of cost, but not the lowest.
- Drinkmate w/no canister – $110.99
- Drinkmate w/3oz test canister – $119.99
- Drinkmate w/1 canister plus small bottle* – $139.99
- Drinkmate w/2 canisters – $164.99
- Drinkmate w/3 canisters plus small bottle – $189.99
- 2 CO2 canisters – $59.99
- 3 CO2 canisters – $87.99
It is worth noting the bottles have expiration dates. You can not machine wash them and through general ware, will need to be replaced otherwise you risk damage when carbonating. Drinkmate sells both the bottles and extra fizz infusers on their website. Unless you are experimenting with new creations that may not work out, the smaller bottle is pretty useless. It’s less than two cups worth of liquid, which is pretty much a single tall glass of water.
I bought a red infuser for my machine… more on that later. Also note, the CO2 canister refill estimates 60L of carbonation, however, the max fill line for the 1L bottle is actually about 28oz, not 33oz for 1L. So, you are getting about 60 bottles worth of carbonation, not technically 60L of carbonation. It’s minor, but would be 72 bottles worth if actually “60L” from a canister. The fizz infusers are not designed to be stored in the fridge, so if you do carbonate and not drink it completely, use the cap and not the infuser when saving.
- Drinkmate Accessories
- Fizz Infusers – $26.99
- 2 1L Bottles – $19.99
- Bottle Cap – $3
- Silicone Bottle Brush – $12
After buying it, and looking into refill options, though, I recommend getting the Drinkmate combo with two or three canisters. Three, you say?! Yes. I bought the single canister option, but later bought two more C02 canisters… and it all has to do with refill logistics. Let me explain.
CO2 Canister Exchange/Refill Options
So, you use up the CO2 the Drinkmate came with… how do you get more? There’s a couple options.
Buy new canisters
Buying new canisters is pretty costly, but technically an option, around +$30 per canister, sold in packs of two, three or four. Slight discounts with buying more than two. This is perfect for the individual who likes to order the most expensive option on the menu, take a bite and throw the rest away while not tipping the wait staff. You do you, pal.
The default option is to send your canisters back to Drinkmate to be exchanged. My Amazon order included a coupon for $15 off my first refill. However, you have to send in two, three or four canisters at a time. Also, if you don’t have a return box, they charge $5 to send one to you (free USPS shipping label included or downloadable). So, if you bought a model with just one canister, like I did, you’ll need to buy more first to then be able to exchange them. If you actually want to use your Drinkmate while you wait for the exchange, you’ll need three canisters… one in the machine, two mailed to be exchanged. Drinkmate also accepts SodaStream universal nozzle canisters (though SodaStream is moving away from those), as well as SodaSense canisters. Orders are shipped DOMESTIC GROUND only, and do not ship to a PO Box. They estimate 2 days to ship, 3-5 days to receive. Shipping is free… I believe. (There’s a little confusion with that involving their rewards program)
One very important detail… they email you a COUPON. You THEN apply that coupon when you BUY more canisters from them. So, you need to send in your empty canisters, wait to receive your coupon, then buy new canisters and apply your coupon and wait up to about a week to receive your new canisters.
- Refill box and label only – $5
- Return 2 canisters – $22 coupon
- Return 3 canisters – $35 coupon
- Return 4 canisters – $55 coupon
- Buy 2 canisters – $59.99 – $37.99 after coupon ($19 each)
- Buy 3 canisters -$87.99 – $52.99 after coupon ($17.67 each)
- Buy 4 canisters – $114.99 – $59.99 after coupon ($15 each)
Drinkmate does offer a rewards program that isn’t well advertised. Seriously… the return to top link in the bottom right of their website turns into the rewards link… if you wait long enough. It’s almost like they don’t want you to know about it. Gives you a great sense of their commitment to their rewards program, doesn’t it? You can earn points to redeem for a discount or refer friends.
- 1 Bubble Buck for each $1 spent
- Free Bubble Bucks (50-100 each/$2-4) for signing up, following, tweeting, birthday, etc.
- 25 Bubble Bucks = $1 discount (effectively a 4% discount)
- 100 Bubble Bucks free shipping (which is odd because they already give you free shipping… so someone forgot something… or their shipping labels aren’t actually pre-paid as I thought)
- Refer a Friend – $5 off for them, $5 off for you
If you buy your canisters from Walmart.com, you will receive a return label and they will give you a $15 gift card upon return. Note, this is not available in store. They only accept Drinkmate canisters. Delivery of the gift card is estimated to be 1-2 weeks. First order will be at full price, following orders can use the $15 discount card.
- 2 canisters w/gift card on exchange – $59.99 first, $44.99 after w/card
- 3 canisters option – $87.99 first, $72.99 after w/card
- 4 canisters option – $114.99 first, $99.99 after w/card
It’s worth noting, SodaStream does have in store exchanges at Target and Walmart, though it’s for their proprietary nozzle design and is not compatible with a Drinkmate.
Like Drinkmate, SodaSense accepts other’s canisters (they even detail which machines their canisters are compatible with), have a similar points program as Drinkmate, but also offer slightly better discounts, as well as a larger affiliate program. They offer 20% off your first refill (or use my link and get $15 off your first refill). Refills are normally $20.99 per canister. Shipping return label is pre-paid USPS. Estimated 3-7 days for delivery once received.
SodaSense filled a copyright for their exchange program, CO2 Exchange LLC, and are focusing on streamlining the process, even filing a patent for the system logistics. Their discount program is automatic to using their service.
I opted to give them a try. They ask how many canisters you currently have and offer suggestions for how many to order through them. Unlike the others, they will sell you a single canister. Very nice if you have just one, like me, and don’t mind waiting for the exchange. I purchased two canisters, received them in the box I’m supposed to return them in, and they included a prepaid return label. You create an account and put your credit card on file. They do things a little differently: they receive your canisters, charge the card and send your refills back out as soon as they receive them. No need to wait for a coupon to use on your next purchase. SodaSense, at this time, is my preferred method.
- Refill box and label only – $0
- Return 2 canisters – $41.98 ($33.58 with 20% off first refill)
- Return 3 canisters – $62.97
- Return 4 canisters – $83.96
- Buy 1 canister – $37
- Buy 2 canisters – $60
- Buy 3 canisters -$87
- Buy 4 canisters – $114
Their rewards program is included with any membership, so the above prices will be offset by the following discounts you automatically acrue (redeemable every 100 points). One thing they note is they do not have late fees. I’m not sure if that’s like marketing your soda as free of tar… because they all are, but makes you wonder about the others… or if others actually do have late fees for canister exchanges. That seems awful. I didn’t look into SodaStream, but I also didn’t see anything obvious from Drinkmate. But an interesting thing to look into.
- 1 Point for each $1 spent
- Free Points (20-50/$1-2.50) for signing up, following, tweeting, birthday, etc.
- 100 Points with 5 exchanges ($5)
- Every 100 Points = $5 discount (effectively a 5% discount)
- Refer a Friend – $15 off their first exchange, $15 off for you
As you can see, their base prices are about the same as Drinkmate, or slightly higher. However, with their more generous discount system that they don’t hide from you… ah hem, Drinkmate… overall I feel they are the better value and experience. I had an issue where I wanted to change my email on file and their customer support responded immediately. I’ve been very pleased with their service.
If you do decide to also use SodaSense for exchanges, please use my affiliate link… you’ll get $15 off your first exchange… and so will I. 😉 Thank you! You’ll help support me to continue to use my Drinkmate for crafting and sharing of wonderful AF cocktails!
As much as I love the Drinkmate, there were some bumps and bruises along the way.
First thing you’ll notice as you open the box and unwrap everything is the Drinkmate feels cheaply made. For as expensive as it is, the plastic base is lightweight and extremely simple. The fizz infuser feels heavier and higher quality, and it’s a $25 part. My first thought was, “this was $100?!”
I could easily see this missing all the parts but popping up at thrift stores for $5-10. In fact, my in-laws have bought numerous SodaStreams exactly that way… so that’s worth noting. Also noting “numerous” as they have tended to break after a while. So, I’m definitely concerned with the life of the machine… despite all of them seem to have this issue.
I was happily surprised that adding or removing the CO2 canister was trivial and made no hiss or loss of gas in the process. For as cheaply made as the base seemed I was sure swapping canisters would be rough. I was fearing a mishap, but it really is simple and there’s nothing to fear.
It takes practice to get the hang of carbonating properly. The instructions vaguely say use “short bursts” but what that actually means is something you have to experiment with. I wasted many liters of CO2 in the process of finding out. I was a bit frustrated and carbonating was a real hit or miss effort at first. I couldn’t seem to get a good seal and had many spill overs.
Which lead me to even wonder if my fizz infuser was defective. I bought a new fizz infuser from Drinkmate (they sell both the fizz infusers and bottles as well) to see if either I had a defective one, or if in the time it had sat in the warehouse the seal had degraded… or hoping they enhanced the design. Much to my joy the new fizz infuser did feel like it had a tighter seal and easily carbonates without needing to apply a slight upward pressure, which seemed to help my original fizz infuser’s performance.
A little annoying I spent an additional $26 for something that should have worked in the first place, but I do like having a red infuser with the black base, so I’ll chalk this up to “carbonating in style” and write it off as my commitment to fully evaluate this devise, warning you that if the infuser doesn’t hold the seal well, it might be the infuser itself and worth trying to replace instead of returning the whole thing.
The only other frustrating thing, that literally just happened right as I started writing this review, was the carbonated water started tasting incredibly bitter.
Googling, it appears to be a rare issue with all machines. I found comments and low reviews for both Drinkmate and SodaStream saying the same thing. One user on Reddit theorized a bad batch of CO2 stirring up some funk. Carbonic acid is bitter by its nature, but it appears that these machines can have an issue. I tested everything… my water, the bottles, the fizz infusers and finally replaced my CO2 canister with a SodaSense one. The bitter after taste lingered slightly, for a couple uses, but tasted normal again. Perhaps there was a build up of carbonic acid in the device caused by some funky CO2 in my canister?
Oddly, for the above video I replaced the canister with the Drinkmate branded bitter one. I forgot that detail while filming and started using the Drinkmate again. After half a dozen charges I realized I was using the “bad” canister… which had tasted perfectly fine since I replaced it back in.
So, it appears that if you do experience an extreme bitterness… just replace it with a different canister and let it rest. It’s not specific to Drinkmate, as I said, but worth knowing the possibility is there. Another reason to have two or three canisters on hand.
Despite spending nearly $90 more than I expected, to just to get the infuser to perform well and have the appropriate number of canisters for refill logistics, I do really love my Drinkmate!
I use it nearly daily and have been researching classic soda fountain recipes and techniques via Art of Drink by Darcy O’Neil. Be on the look out for flavored syrups and soda recipes!
If you are thinking about getting a home carbonation soda maker, I do recommend the Drinkmate if you want to carbonate any liquid and experiment with creative recipes.
There might be some bumps, and you might need to replace it, or parts, more often than you’d like, but for some it might be akin to “working on the car” on the weekends in order to take it out on the road with the carbon dioxide winds blowing through your hair.
Seeing as how my in-laws have bought a couple SodaStreams for dollars at the thrift store, replacing when they break… the longevity of any of these devices may be in question. So, if you buy one, be sure to use it and get your money’s worth!