Pop quiz

Pop quiz

By Paul Hagan


From fast food franchises to fancy French bistros, fountain drinks can taste different due to how the soda fountain is set up. While few customers leave solely based on questionable soda fountain performance, you never want to introduce what is basically an avoidable negative experience to your patrons. Here are some quick solutions for identifying and fixing funny tasting soda.


Diagnosing your soda fountain drink flavors starts with understanding the key components of a fountain drink: water, CO2 and syrup. A soda fountain combines water and CO2 to create carbonated water in an aptly-named carbonator, where the two normally incompatible components are combined under high pressure. A “joining of forces,” so to speak. The CO2-infused water is then mixed with syrup right before pouring out of the machine, creating that fizzy beverage everyone loves.


Combining the components right before drinking is why fountain drinks typically taste better than bottled soda. But what should you do when your fountain drinks are fizzling out?


Light (or no) color
If the color of your soda is pale or even clear, it probably means the syrup is low. This is easy to fix. Simply replace the syrup bag!


Flat soda
If your soda tastes flat, it’s time to replace the CO2. Your water isn’t getting carbonated enough. If you need gas tanks of CO2 you can contact your local one-stop distribution company.


NPP members can save on CO2 and other industrial gases with discounted pricing from Airgas, one of the nation’s leading single-source suppliers.


Too sweet or sour
If the color of your soda looks right, but the soda is too sweet or has a sour tang to it, your carbonated-water-to-syrup ratio is most likely off. Too much syrup will give you a sweeter taste, while too much carbonated water results in a sour taste. The soda fountain just needs to be recalibrated, usually via an adjustment screw.


Something is… off
Finally, it’s best practice to clean your soda fountain frequently… very frequently. In addition to numerous sanitary reasons, cleaning your fountain prevents buildup of molds, fungus, and other contaminants that can cause undesirable tastes. Nozzles and diffusers should be taken off and scrubbed daily, while syrup connectors and the ice bin should be cleaned and flushed out at least weekly.


Oh, and if you spray dark soda all over your work clothes, you may need to call a professional uniform service. NPP business members get discounts on that too. Just sayin’.


Now let’s make a toast to fantastic fizzy drinks and the customers who enjoy them! Here’s to better bubbles, terrific taste and returning regulars. Cheers, everybody!