The Sodastream Revolution

A few months ago, we were at a friend’s place in Belgium watching another exciting match (where Belgium won), when our host asked if we’d like a Cuba Libre. We’re fans of the battle-cry cocktail, so naturally, yes please! Yummy sips later, we were surprised to learn that the cola she used in the cocktail she had actually made herself.

Yep, that was the night we discovered the amazing Sodastream. I’ve never done any product reviews before, so you can imagine this one must be pretty good. What does it do? It makes soda drinks. Fizzy drinks, soft drinks, gassy drinks, whatever you like to call it. And you can make it when you want it, right from your couch.

sodastreamgenesis

Put simply, it’s just carbonating water, adding syrup, mixing, and voila, refreshing soda ready to go. To break it down into steps:

Step 1: Pop a pre-compressed CO2 gas canister into the machine
Step 2: Attach a bottle of water
Step 3: Press to dispense gas
Step 4: Remove bottle
Step 5: Pour in syrup
Step 6: Mix
Step 7: Enjoy!
Or as one website says: Fill, Fizz, Flavour and Enjoy!

fill,fiz, less stroke

7 steps might sound like a lot more work than simply buying a bottle of Coca-Cola and pouring it out, but here are 7 reasons why I’m glad we bought one: (No, not just cuz Scarlett Johansson says so / See the behind-the-scenes)

1. Healthier
Purely looking at the numbers, Sodastream’s sodamixes (as their syrups are called) champ our old regulars Coca-Cola, Pepsi, 7-UP and Sprite any day. They also use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup – yep, that nasty post-war surplus-crop result the US food industry was built upon, and that everyone today seems to be addicted to.

But even for those really going all out down the health route, if you’re on a low-sugar diet, just use less sodamix. And sure, there’s always going to be some controversy over the sodamixes containing chemicals and colourings, so if you really want to go au naturel, you can still use Sodastream to make a seltzer and add your own berry juices, mix your own syrups at home, or just add a dash of lemon the way fancy people do.

2. Saves money
Coca-Cola is expensive. In Belgium, a Coke could cost you more than a beer! One sodamix bottle, going at S$9.80 here, can make about 12 litres or 36 cans of soda. That’s like, what, 27 cents a can?? But ok, granted, we have to add in the cost of the gas canister too. We’re still doing the math on this as we use it, but right now the calculations add up to about 55 cents a can total. That’s still much cheaper than what you’d pay for usually.

3. Many choices
sodastreamsodamixesWhatever you feel like drinking, you’ll be able to make one. Personally, our stash of favourites includes Cola, Raspberry, Ginger Ale, Lemon Lime, Apple and Root Beer. We’ve yet to discover the treasure trove of flavours that Takashimaya promises to restock soon [will update then!], but so far, we’re pretty happy with what we’ve got. Apparently Sodastream has produced more than 50 flavours and plans to release even more in the future. Unfortunately for us, not all the flavours they launch in the US are available on our sunny isle.

By the way: Apparently Sodastream has also introduced Sodastream Caps so you simply pop on a cap full of syrup over your carbonated bottle and press, releasing it instantly. They also have a range of Happy Hour cocktail mixers (check out this video), green teas, and MyWater essences to get lightly-flavoured water. Let’s just hope they’ll bring them in here too!

4. Gets you burping
Because you dispense the gas yourself, you can choose just how fizzy you need your drink to be. One of the main reasons why we got it was because fizzy drinks help my boyfriend burp, a great way of releasing the excess gases in your digestive system. Needless to say, if you don’t release these gases then you’ll end up feeling bloated, sometimes even to the point of pain, or it might lead to endogenous toxins being released into your bloodstream, which is, well, toxic. And you don’t want that. Duh.

5. Saves the earth
Using only the re-useable Sodastream bottle to make soda now, our household has much less wastage in terms of plastic bottles and metal cans that we would usually be piling up. Also, since you use the normal water that comes out of your tap, there’s no need to buy special carbonated water or mineral water which all come in more plastic bottles.

sodastreamsavetheearth

6. Convenient
Ok you guys might not have an issue with this since you have lifts, but we stay in a four-storey walkup, so we’d choose making our own soda from the comforts of our couch versus climbing up a hundred steps tugging heavy bottles of soda any day, tyvm. Also, the Sodastream only takes up a small counter space, and it’s much easier to store the tiny Sodamix bottles the size of your palm, especially space-saving when they contain the equivalent of 8 x 1.5L PET bottles of Coke!

7. Fun
Who are we kidding? Who cares how much healthier it is, we’re just in it cuz it’s fun. (Hee hee!) Sometimes we fight over who gets to carbonate the water. If you’re a parent, tough luck, you’ll have to fight with your kids over it. But yeah, if it’s this much fun for us, I’d imagine it’d be tons fun for little ones as they get to have a hand in making their own yummy drinks. It’s also great for entertaining when we have guests over (our friends are just overgrown kids too anyways).

sodastreamhome

If you’re thinking of getting a Sodastream, here are 7 tips I’d like to share:

1. Note refill locations: Find out where the nearest places are that stock refills for Sodastream gas canisters. When you run out of gas, you should be able to quickly get a refill nearby (they call it a refill, but in Singapore they do a 1-for-1 replacement instead). A refill is only S$22, compared to a new one at S$55.

2. Keep them chilled: Always keep a bottle in the fridge so you have a cold one ready to go when you want it. We bought three bottles so that we could always have two different flavoured drinks and one on standby. A little indulgent, methinks, but useful!

3. Pick the right one: There are a few different models of Sodastream machines, but you don’t really need the fancy ones unless you are a fancy person. We got the cheapest model (S$155) and it does everything we need it to. The newer, more expensive models feature new snap-lock technology, auto-sliding, LED lights, metal bodies, glass carafes, and other fancy stuff we don’t need. But, to get the one that’s best for your needs, I’d advise you to go to a store and have the demonstrator show you how they all work so you can pick the right one.

4. How much gas? If you have an older model like ours and the gas-dispensing is manual (i.e. it dispenses when you press the button), and you’re not sure how much gas to dispense, listen out for the buzzes. After pressing a few times you’ll hear a loud buzz sound. Don’t worry, it’s all normal. And yes, you’ll be able to tell it’s a buzz; it’ll be obvious. As a handy guide, go with 3 buzzes for fruity flavours and 5 buzzes for cola flavours, and adjust to your preferences.

5. Pouring: When pouring in the syrup, always tilt the bottle at a slight angle so that there’s room for the air to escape as well and you won’t end up with a big wet, sticky mess everywhere.

6. Mixing: When mixing the bottle, we found it better to turn it upside down and then back up, and then maybe one more time upside down. No prizes for guessing what happens if you mix it the way you do a cocktail in a shaker.

7. AU/NZ: A most important note: If you live in Singapore, buy a Sodastream from Singapore. It might be more expensive than the ones retailing in Australia and New Zealand, but those machines utilise a different threading and you won’t be able to fit local gas canisters into them. And no, you can’t travel with a gas canister no matter what flight you’re on. And yes, this only applies to Australia and New Zealand. They’re special. Haha.

Enjoy your Sodastreaming! :)

The True Meaning of Being Open-Minded

A lot of people like to think they’re open-minded. “I’m totally open-minded about cohabiting,” or “I’m totally open-minded about gay marriage.”

Open-mindedness is not about being fine with the things that you’re fine with. If you’re fine with it, then who cares how open you are about it? It’s your opinion. You own it. You agree with it. On the contrary, being open-minded is exactly what’s needed when it’s something you don’t – or even can’t – agree with.

Being open-minded is allowing yourself to be open to the possibility that there may be other ways – other than the way you think is right. It’s saying ‘No’ to narrow-mindedness – the belief that there is only a right way and a wrong way, or that there’s only one entrance and one exit to the maze that is Life.

Fact is: There are a million pathways. And sure, you might think any way but yours will lead to doom, or should not even exist in the first place; fair enough, that’s your opinion. But you have to at least acknowledge they are there, whether you like it or not. And then hopefully open yourself up to the possibility that perhaps, just perhaps, they might lead somewhere, too.

The problem is, all our lives, we are taught one way of doing things, one way that things should be, and that one way becomes the only way, built into our psyche, our entire universe. But guess what? It’s precisely the same thing for the person next to you. And that’s already two really different, diverse ways of doing things. Add more people, and you’ll discover every person might have their own set of rules and values and habits and preferences.

If we all live with the attitude that only our way is the right way, we’ll never have room for others’ opinions. We’ll shut them down before they can even start explaining. We’ll never give them a chance, never give another way an opportunity, never learn new things, never try new things. We’ll be stuck the exactly same flawed way we are, moulded by all those negative disappointments and failures and upsets in life, and never discover the possibility of a better way.

But okay, say it doesn’t lead to a better way. But ah, that’s the other great thing about being open-minded. It doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Understanding is not accepting. Understanding is comprehending where someone else is coming from, seeing their point of view, learning of a new path. You’re totally allowed to disagree with it. You just have to respect it. You just have to acknowledge that while it doesn’t make any frikkin’ sense to you at all, it makes sense to them. And they should be able to live by that, as much as you should be allowed to live by your own thinking.

It’s called open-mindedness because it is literally opening our mind to many, many possibilities, and understanding that our way is just as much merely a “possibility” to others as theirs is to us. It takes the ego away from the situation, and reduces our way to simply one way out of a million, thus humbling us as a person.

It reminds us that we’re just a speck in this vast ocean of people. It helps us take a step back and look at the bigger picture, that we’re all out here just trying to be good people, lead a good life, be happy. We all just have different ways of achieving that. And there are no right ways or wrong ways (except murder and hurting others and such), just my way, your way – and his way and her way and their way… and Frank’s way. But of course.