The Three Cuisinart Soda Maker Models
Cuisinart has released 3 different soda maker models: 2 machines (SMS-201, SMS-216) and one siphon (CSS-100). There are sometimes letters at the end of these product codes to indicate the product color. They are all currently discontinued but can still be seen on Cuisinart’s website in the discontinued section. However, some models are still available online at very discounted prices. I would strongly advise to consider other alternatives due to the issues with the Cuisinart refill ecosystem and the fact that they’re discontinued.
Unfortunately, the sub-optimal refill experience ruins a potentially very practical soda maker. In fact, the machine itself is quite good and almost all users report that the product worked as expected and was easy to use. The poor reviews are overwhelmingly due to the bad refill system. Also, the machine is quite cheap making it one of the cheapest soda maker machines and at similar prices as soda siphons. However, this is probably due to it being discontinued soon and Cuisinart wanting to clear it out.
Additionally, the Cuisinart soda maker looks quite good with the metal accents and is easy to use thanks to the handy carbonation lever. It also comes with a BPA-free 1L bottle that you twist-on and has a quick-connect valve to make connecting the CO2 cartridge a breeze. The machine even comes with a 3 year limited warranty.
As for the soda siphon it got good reviews as well and users said that it worked as expected. It has a similar appearance to the SodaSparkle.
The Cuisinart CO2 Cartridge Refill System
Like SodaStream, Cuisinart has its own proprietary refill system. Their soda maker machines use CO2 cartridges, one of which comes with the machine, that can each refill up to 16L. While the refill capacity is superior to those of smaller CO2 cartridges used for soda siphons, it is quite inferior to the models offered by SodaStream that can refill either 60L or 130L each. On top of that, it only says “up to 16L” and many users have reported that they were getting less than that. Now the size of the cartridge wouldn’t be an issue except for one big problem: the cartridges are very expensive and hard to find, explaining all the bad reviews for the Cuisinart soda maker machines.
In fact, looking online, the only place I could find them was on the Cuisinart website. Amazon said that they were unavailable at the moment and other online retailers didn’t seem to carry them. How much were they on the Cuisinart website? $40 for a set of 2 4oz CO2 cartridges. That’s right, $20 for “up to 16L” of sparkling water. That gives us a cost per liter of $1.25 which is much higher than SodaStream’s $0.25/L for the 60L and $0.23/L for the 130L canister. It’s even higher than using 8g CO2 cartridges for soda siphons ($0.4/L) and, depending on whether you buy sparkling water in cans or bottles, it’s probably higher than how much you would pay at the store for a comparable amount of soda water.
Not everything’s bad though as I did see the option to buy a 16oz CO2 cartridge (also compatible) for the Cuisinart soda maker on their website. The price was $60 for 2 16oz CO2 cartridges. Being 4 times as heavy, we can assume that these cartridges can fill up to 64L (probably less once again). The cost per liter is then of $0.47/L which isn’t that bad but still much more expensive than SodaStream.
As for the CSS-100, it uses “soda chargers”. SodaSparkle sells a compatible version on Amazon which is cheaper but still on the expensive side of things.
Another issue is that the lack of availability makes you dependent on Cuisinart maintaining support for the product. At the moment, it’s impossible to buy the actual soda maker from the website and the only way to buy it is on amazon from a third party for a heavily discounted price. It is still possible to buy the CO2 cartridges but, seeing that the machines themselves are discontinued, it is possible that they discontinue the cartridges are discontinued too, leaving you with a machine that cannot be refilled. On the other hand, SodaStream’s CO2 canisters can be exchanged for full versions at various retailers all across the country and even if they discontinue a certain soda maker, the CO2 canisters will still be compatible and they will continue to be manufactured.
Overall, if you are interested in soda maker machines I would recommend opting for a similarly priced SodaStream soda maker, specifically the SodaStream Genesis. It’s inexpensive, looks great, works well, is easy to use is durable and you’ll be able to take advantage of SodaStream’s refill system to save money, time/effort and the planet. Alternatively, you can check out other soda maker machines. If you’re interested in soda siphons, you can check out reviews for various models but I’d personally recommend the SodaSparkle (very similar to the CSS-100 but less expensive and not discontinued).
Unfortunately, due to the expensive and impractical refill system and the risk coming from the product being discontinued, I cannot recommend the Cuisinart Soda Maker. If you do buy it, make sure to buy the 16oz cartridges at least since they are significantly cheaper than the 4oz models. Also, SodaMod sells an adapter and CO2 tank which could allow you to refill the Cuisinart Soda Maker by refilling the tank at paintball shops (roughly $5 for more than twice the amount, roughly $0.14/L). However, this would increase your initial investment significantly and there is very little information online that reviews this specific adapter.