I prefer diet sodas over coffee for my daily caffeine intake. I started using a SodaStream a couple years ago, and I've come to really enjoy a few of the flavors that they offer, but some of them are already completely impossible to get anymore. This seems mostly due to them being acquired by Pepsi, and this has caused them to redo their entire lineup due to either lackluster sales or corporate politics.
I would love it if Open Cola were not only available from manufacturers, but also covered more flavors, because it seems like making soda at home is really catching on (one only needs to look at the sales of the carbonator cap on Amazon to see this) but the availability of syrups is presenting some serious supplier risk.
Edit: SodaStream wasn't acquired by Pepsi, they merely had a distribution deal. My mistake.
For one, you're clearly concerned about sugar intake (and you should be), but you see one problem with our sugar intake is that it makes our taste buds tolerant to sugar, so in time it dulls our senses for fruits or milk or other healthy foods with naturally occurring sugar. And the problem is that artificial sweeteners can make this problem even worse. This is like nicotine addicts switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes. It might be slightly healthier, but doesn't do anything for your addiction.
If you're a diabetic, there have been studies suggesting that some artificial sweeteners can raise your blood sugar and can trigger an insulin response. If you're concerned about your weight I saw a study suggesting that artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain. Of course, you know how nutrition studies are - most of them are flawed or questionable, but clearly it's a warning sign.
And sugar is not the only bad ingredient in sodas. Another problem is citric acid, linked to tooth decay. Phosphoric acid has been linked to osteoporosis and also tooth decay. Coca Cola has been using Aspartame in their diet products, which has been found to cause cancer.
The list goes on.
I'm in the same boat as you, I simply want something to drink. Personally I drink plain water (which tastes really good after you cut your sugar intake), coffee with milk in the morning and tea during the day, all without sugar. And I eat fruits for my sugar intake. Grapes taste great this time of year.
Or when I have a craving for Coca Cola, which happens from time to time, I simply drink the one with sugar in it, because it tastes better. If my health is going to suffer, at least it has to be worth it.
If it's not to your taste, one way to make unsweetened soda water substantially more palatable is to add lemon juice. A particularly convenient way to do this is to use bottled lemon juice. When I'm in a fancy mood I'll also add mint, ice and a few good shakes of bitters.
In Australia, Schweppes sells bottles of sparkling water (soda water) infused with various flavours, including my personal favourite, raspberry. While it's essentially sugar free it still has a very very slight echo of sweetness.
 Despite being available for many months they don't list the product on their website. Here's an image: http://shop.coles.com.au/wcsstore/Coles-CAS/images/2/0/4/204...
I personally never liked the taste of soda water. However, I just stopped drinking sugared drinks entirely and just drink water or tea (with no sugar, just a bit of milk). It was quite easy to make the switch once I realised that I actually don't like drinking Coke (the "bite" is what acid dissolving your insides tastes like). It's quite amazing how different things taste. Food (mainly fruit and even vegetables) taste much sweeter because I'm not being (as) bombarded by sugar.
Try it again, with your palate shifted, you might like it now. As I said, a good squeeze of lemon can make an enormous difference to its palatability.
While in Paris and Nice France I noticed many diners would order sparkling water. In the US I'm one of the few that will order it at a meal when I go out.
I drink an enormous amount of plain soda water (aka sparkling water aka seltzer aka club soda). Like 64oz to 96oz a day.
My intake has gone up even more now that I fast most of the day, have a soda stream, and vacuumed seal stainless steel tumbler (yeti, rtic, etc). I highly recommend one of those cups.
I swear but don't have proof that soda water curbs appetite more than flat water.
My only annoyance is that soda stream while I suppose helpful to the environment is actually not that cost effective.
Edit: also, forgot to mention. While your average sports shop paintball gun CO2 refill is dirty as crap, it's really common to have someplace around that has beverage quality CO2 (check breweries, they usually capture the excess from the brewing), and surprise surprise even though the beverage companies make a big fuss about their CO2, your average industrial CO2 supplier is giving you the same CO2 you'd get for food grade. Also look for kegerator suppliers, as they'd be another place to get CO2.
I never had any issues with dirty CO2, neither did the dozen or so other people I know who also kegged. Carbon dioxide is carbon dioxide as far as I'm concerned.
However, it is spot on that drinking diet soda (or any soda) redefines the concept of sweet. Once I stopped, I was amazed that things like carrots, grapes, and even every day bread (sugar added, at least in the U.S.) are very sweet. Suddenly fruits and vegetables are like candy and actual candy is overwhelming.
Could you link to a review paper for all the studies showing this myth, I must have missed ("myth-ed it!") and was still under the impression artificial sweeteners did damage to the body's control mechanisms for sugar intake.
Due to how poorly regulated the liquids are it has the potential to be worse as well.
We have on the one hand a known bad thing, cigarettes contain all sorts of nasties, tars, combustion products etc etc
On the other we have propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, nicotine and food flavours that get vapourised (not burned). These have no proven links to cancer, PG and VG are already used in food and in medicines, some for inhalation. Also stage-smoke. There's no reason to think they are anywhere near as hazardous as smoking, though we haven't got good long-term data yet.
Regulation of ingredients would be good, but smoking cigarettes and vaping is very far apart in expected health outcomes.
which reports increased levels of aldehydes (formaldehyde, for example) from the breakdown of the propylene glycol and glycerin.
Now, I usually either go for an energy drink syrup if I want caffeine (Mio or Power Ade have some good ones) or Koolaid liquid for no-sugar no-caffeine. I make them much stronger than my wife likes, but that's just another feature... You can customize the taste a lot.
Losing your favorite flavors sucks, but the silver lining is that it pushed me to look for other flavors, and I definitely found some that I liked.
Wouldn't the answer there be to try making your own of those too? I'd bet good money that a "plain" syrup isn't difficult to make and that relevant flavouring agents are easy to come by.
The difference with carbonation is that I can get CO2 and carbonation equipment really easily, and in different forms from different suppliers. I could even get some yeast from my local store and make it. Carbonating water takes less time and effort than making a cup of coffee.
The problem with syrups is that, as you can see from the recipe here on Open Cola, I would spend a lot of time and effort making it. The only syrup I know of that doesn't have this problem is root beer. Most grocery stores in the US seem to carry concentrate which need only be mixed with sweetener and carbonated water. Cola, lemon lime, orange, or other syrups don't have this kind of availability, apart from those from SodaStream.
Cola and lemon-lime as a mix, maybe; orange, as well as lemon and lime individually -- and also raspberry, vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, and others -- are very commonly available flavoring syrups in most grocery stores I've seen.
We buy just-add-water punch mix by the gallon in various flavors at our local grocery store. Should work for home-mixed sodas.
The Torani flavors in the italian sodas are a good option, but probably expensive for mass soda production?
Sure, they're not on every grocery store. But Amazon has them, and it's a great distribution channel for that.
The basic set of oils costs around $75 (most of that the neroli, IIRC), the carbonation setup I was able to do for around $100 (most of that the pressure regulator).
The Coca-Cola company has a monopoly on coca leaf extract , so nothing tastes 'just like a Coke'. ;)
Need to figure out what to do about the product getting a bit shaken up in the mail though :)
The problem is people are religious about their Cola and basically nobody has managed to convince consumers that theirs taste as good as the big brand.
There are plenty of very cheap store brand cokes available in stores, none of them have managed to compete with Coca Cola.
I want to try the Dollar Shave Club model in my country (Razors particularly have an incredible markup), but the import and tax logistics, plus starting capital requirements, are insurmountable for me. I guess I'll stick to software :)
So that anyone would be allowed to sell a drink under Open Cola brand as long as it is produced as defined in the specifications, and especially face legal penalties if someone tries to sell something else as Open Cola.
Then we would need an app that tells where is the closest place to get open burger with cheese and fries to compete with the convenience of knowing the quality I am getting when I opt for Big Mac.
An interesting idea...
Bit tenuous, but...
+1 to OpenCola On GitHub idea :-)
There is a "base" recipe and people experiment, publish their own spin (ie we could see a cherry cola, vanilla, etc) people up vote it and the cream rises to the top and you get some great recipes.
Not to say that this isn't still a lot of sugar, just that it's comparable to the product it's trying to emulate.
So while the concept of "OpenCola" is cool, it's closer to "OpenDiabetes".