This Swedish Sparkling Water Maker Is the Best (and Most Stylish) At-Home Soda Machine
I’ve long coveted a soda machine for my home, because I love drinking sparkling water and hate schlepping 12-packs of seltzer home from Key Foods. The obvious choice would be to get something from SodaStream, the soda machine company that was bought by Pepsi for $3.2 billion in 2018 and continues to dominate the market. But I’m a seltzer snob, and I wanted to find out if soda makers from SodaStream actually make the best-tasting and bubbliest sparkling water, or if the brand just has the most name recognition. I’m also a kitchen-appliance aficionado with limited free counter space for new gadgets, so if I am going to make space for a soda machine, I want it to look nice.
That’s why, for my money, the best sparkling water machine is the Aarke Carbonator II. It’s far and away the most attractive of the five soda makers I tested, the one I’d be most excited to place on my own counter and show off. Part of that is because it’s made of stainless steel, and Aarke’s variety of metallic and matte finishes — including copper, silver, white, and matte black — feel more grown-up and elegant than the glossy plastic cases of the SodaStream or the Drinkmate, the other two brands I tested out.
The lever mechanism you pull down to carbonate the bottle of water also adds to the vintage look and feel of the Aarke. One co-worker likened it to something you’d spot at an old-fashioned soda counter. But that lever is just as practical and easy to use as it is eye-catching. I found the Aarke’s lever much easier to manipulate and control than the wobbly plastic button on top of the SodaStream Fizzi, which I had to press repeatedly and intently to get a fraction of the fizz of that I got with one lever pull on the Aarke. After you screw a full bottle of cold water into the stand, you simply pull that lever down until you hear a hiss, indicating that the carbonation process is complete. Unscrew the bottle, and just like that you’ve got a full bottle of seltzer.
I can’t speak to the longevity of the Aarke — or any of these soda makers, really — since I only tested them for a week, but the stainless-steel body of the Aarke feels sturdy, like it belongs in a working kitchen and could stand the test of time. So even though it is more than twice as expensive as the basic SodaStream, I’d say the Swedish-designed Aarke is worth the splurge, since it’s easier to use and looks nicer than the average, plastic soda machine.