Do you offer Italian Sodas in your cafe? Looking for suggestions for decent soda siphons/chargers.....thoughts? Worth it?

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We don't offer Italian Sodas because we don't carry a bunch of syrups. We do serve straight shots with a rock glass side of carbonated filter water using a glass mesh soda siphon.

 

Mike, do you find this less expensive than bottled sparkling water?  Better or comparable quality?  What kind of charge time?  What size do you use?  We've considered this method but weren't sure how well it would work.  We go through about 5 liters of sparkling water a day, mostly for espresso sides.  Don't do italian sodas but occasionally serve pints of sparkling water over ice.  V, seems like italian sodas would offer a good profit margin provided you have a number of syrup offerings on hand.  Do they make syphons big enough to do any sort of volume though?

Mike McGinness said:

We don't offer Italian Sodas because we don't carry a bunch of syrups. We do serve straight shots with a rock glass side of carbonated filter water using a glass mesh soda siphon.

 

Only been able to find the new glass mesh siphons in 1L. (Have 2L brushed aluminums but don't use 'em, just don't look near as cool). At roughly 45c per charge a bit cheaper than bottled Pellegrino or Perrier but really use 'em cuz love the looks and comments customers give.

 

 

Yeah, Mike... let's get some details! I know it isn't just as simple as filling the bottle and screwing on a CO2 cartridge.

I know the times I've tried to do sparkling water at home with a 1L isi siphon the carbonation was just not adequate. It looked ok on the way out but went flat really quickly. I was only using one cartridge, though I did also try letting them sit in the fridge overnight in order to more fully dissolve the CO2. If I ever play with it again I'll try using 2 chargers per bottle. Perhaps the safety valve on your glass one is not as wimpy? Or maybe since you're doing it as a side to an espresso instead of, say, the base for a gin and tonic, it isn't as critical.

Bunn was demoing a cold beverage system at SCAA this spring featuring some pretty tasty infused cold beverages. These were fresh, whole ingredient based drinks too - using fresh citrus, produce, herbs, and spices - so an interesting alternative that is more in keeping with the philosophy many shops are taking now. (I recall an interesting and tasty mojito-inspired one that used lime, mint, and red bell pepper.) I believe the ones we sampled were almost completely still though, and were just using nitrogen as an infusion aid. Will see what I can find out about this and post back.

I think it is absolutely possible to do a summer cold sparkling beverage program in a quality-focused cafe if you wanted to. Just approach the beverages the same way you'd approach the rest of the menu. With the craft cocktail boom reaching the saturation levels it has, there's a HUGE amount of information out there on creating DIY infusions, syrups, inspired flavor combos, etc. Serious Eats (Marcia Simmons does some great work on DIY stuff), Imbibe Magazine, and a myriad of cocktail bloggers have done much of the work for you already. Develop a couple of really tasty sodas based on real ingredients, adding a twist to differentiate yourself from the "20 bottles of Torani" crowd, and rotate through them as the summer progressed.

One more thought - you could also look to aguas frescas for flavor inspirations.

You know, since these are traditionally still drinks you could also just add a couple of those to the summer lineup and forget the siphon all together.

Cool.  Thanks Mike. Brady, you are right, approaching italian sodas with a mind towards quality and freshness could really result in some interesting experiences. 

Maybe you can test the concept out using syrups and a soda stream I found parts online to turn a soda stream unit into a mini commercial unit using a paint ball co2 can

I'd be careful here, especially if serving to the public. You need to use food grade CO2...

John said:

Maybe you can test the concept out using syrups and a soda stream I found parts online to turn a soda stream unit into a mini commercial unit using a paint ball co2 can

o.O

I sell 2 sizes of Italian Soda's in my store, and use 1883 syrups. 3 pumps for a small, and 4 for a large. My 2 sizes are 12 and 20 oz. I sell them for the same price as my regular sodas. We do a lot of lunch here, and having multiple non-caffeine options is a plus. And when you can buy club soda for 88 cents for a 2 liter bottle? I mean, in the long run you can make your own, sure. But do you need to? Not in my opinion. It does have show value though. The majority of your Italian soda customers will probably be kids and teens, at least what I see. I also sell bottles of sparkling water for those who desire a designer touch. 

As for flavor variety? I offer cherry, blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry. And any vanilla variation of that. I don't up-charge if they want combinations. I just adjust the portioning. But I use several syrups. All of those syrups I alternately use in different drinks; not just italian soda. But, as far as making money is concerned, selling them isn't a bad idea. Shelf-life of product is extensive. Cost is minimal. And waste is practically non-exhistent. We also use the flat club soda to clean our panini grills, and save on cleaner. 

You should try using Torani real fruit smoothie mixes with carbonated water . Great stuff

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