Aqua Optima Aurora 10 Cup Drip Coffee Maker review

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REVIEW – While having a coffee maker is almost a necessity in homes today, it is not thought of as a luxury item—but it can be. A company known for water filtration devices has taken that knowledge and applied it to making a great cup of coffee. Enter the Aqua Optima Aurora 10 Cup Drip Coffee Maker. Did they succeed? Yeah, they did, but it might be overkill for some coffee drinkers.

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What is it?

The Aqua Optima Aurora 10 Cup Drip Coffee Maker is a new countertop appliance from the UK that’s now available in the US. It makes a good cup of coffee, filters water, and provides many temperatures and sizes of coffee (hot or cold) and hot water for tea, hot chocolate, or whatever. It features seven different water volumes and seven different hot water temperatures—and will quickly make a full pot of coffee.

No, the Aurora is not a super mocha dappa lopa frappachino maker. But if you’re serious about coffee . . .

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The Aqua Optima Aurora 10 Cup Drip Coffee Maker features a large touch-screen display that gives all the info you need—once you figure out the icons and their meanings (the manual isn’t great). A center dial helps navigate up and down the many settings available. There is a child-lock feature that kicks in after a few minutes if no buttons are touched. I understand the need, but it can be a bit irritating if you have an all-adult household—like us.

As far as I can tell, there is no clock/timer for hot coffee when you wake up, but it can be made ready for a simple one-button push first thing in the morning. 

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A glass carafe is included for making a full pot of coffee. Water is stored at the back of the Aurora. An Evolve+ filter  (more on that later) will quickly filter all the water required. The filter is somewhat of a standard size that fits many different brands of water filtering devices—at least in Europe. The Aurora is a bit Euro-centric. The filters are good for 40 gallons or two months of use. Replacement filters can be purchased on Amazon. A MAX line is plainly marked on the tank to prevent overfilling.

The Aqua Optima Aurora 10 Cup Drip Coffee Maker is both tall and deep—something to consider if going under an upper cabinet. Plus, since the water is filled at the back, if under a counter, it will need to be pulled out to fill. It’s awkward. Included in the box is a booklet (with social media links) containing a few coffee-related recipes for those who like to experiment.

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What’s included?

  • Carafe
  • Heating unit with touch-screen
  • Single Evolve+ filter
  • No sample coffee or coffee filters are included
  • Manual
  • Water tank
  • Cup tray

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Tech specs

Click to expand
  • Dimensions: 8.6 x 15.7 x 13.2 inches
  • Capacity: 12.5 cups
  • Wattage: 2100

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Design and features

Let me state up front that even though I love coffee, I am not an expert. I often joke to my wife that I put the sewer in connoisseur when it comes to coffee. I can gulp a cup of Maxwell House and be happy. Having said that, there are two things I’ve come to appreciate regarding coffee—grinding beans as needed and filtered (not tap) water. Heck, I have no problem with water straight from our kitchen faucet—just not in Florida.

When I was offered the Aqua Optima Aurora 10 Cup Drip Coffee Maker for review, I was looking for a coffee maker that would produce coffee noticeably better than what I was used to. For years, we used a Keurig single-serve machine that was convenient, easy, and inexpensive to use—as long as you used your own coffee in your own basket. Keurig coffee pods are notoriously expensive. I was shocked at how bad our coffee was before switching to the Aurora!

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The icons on the touchscreen indicate how many oz. of liquid chosen, but cup and pot amounts are only visual with no numbers. So how many oz. of coffee is a large cup, a small cup, half-filled cup? Only trial and error can tell you that. One thing we learned is that the best way to make coffee for us is to set it on full pot and leave the setting there. We ended up only using individual cup sizes for hot tea. Since those sizes were numbered, it was easy. 

Oh, the touch display is quick and responsive as is the center manual dial. Once you figure one what all the icons mean, using it is a breeze.

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We quickly learned that making a full pot of coffee has a definite downside. The carafe is glass. There is no insulation—like on a double-walled insulated pot. Plus, the heated base shuts down after about 30 minutes. There is no way to keep it on. I asked Aurora about that and they said it was a safety thing. Uh huh. All it meant to my wife and I was cold coffee. We resorted to transferring the fresh coffee to an insulated pot from another brand. That should not have been necessary. It could be a deal-killer for some, I’m sure.

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The glass carafe feels like it could break if tapped hard against a marble countertop. I’ve become extra careful about how I handle it. The carafe’s handle is comfortable to hold, but I noticed a glued cap on one end fell off, exposing a screw. I’ve not been able to find it anywhere.

Despite these headaches, coffee from the Aurora tastes great! Since all of our drinking water is filtered through our refrigerator, our coffee ends up being double-filtered. I have no idea if that makes any difference. All I know is that this coffee totally destroys what you get from Keurig. 

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Coffee goes into a basket that fits snuggly into the top of the glass carafe It uses standard, easy-to-find #4 filters. Through trial and error (again), we agreed on how much coffee was needed for a full pot. Once decided, making great-tasting coffee each morning became a no-brainer.

After returning from a vacation to the UK, I’ve been on a hot tea kick (the English make terrible coffee). Using the Aqua Optima Aurora 10 Cup Drip Coffee Maker for hot tea is easy and accurate with its cup measurements listed on the touch-screen. I assume if you use coffee bags as you would tea bags, then you could customize coffee better than the nondescript coffee cup icons show. Note that the Aurora has an extra cup tray that helps prevent splashing. This tray is not adjustable, so a large cup might not fit.

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Assembly, Installation, Setup

Setting up the Aqua Optima Aurora 10 Cup Drip Coffee Maker is fairly easy, but the manual comes up short. It fails to explain all of the icons and their meanings. I could figure it out, but I shouldn’t have to. When I installed the Evolve+ filter, I wasn’t positive I had done it correctly. It’s not intuitive. However, once the filter was in place, setting the rest up was straightforward. Aurora (like all water filter machines) recommends soaking the filter for a period and then running water through the Aurora before using it. This should be repeated with each filter replacement.

The Evolve+ filter has 5 stages of filtration, yet still manages to filter water as soon as water is poured on it. There is little to no delay.

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What I like about the Aqua Optima Aurora 10 Cup Drip Coffee Maker

  • Makes great-tasting coffee
  • Relatively fast 
  • Variable temperature and water volume choices
  • Modern looking
  • Great water filter

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What needs to be improved?

  • Choosing proper coffee mug sizes involves a learning curve
  • Touch screen display is not explained well in the manual
  • Water must be filled at the rear of the unit
  • The carafe is not insulated and will not keep coffee hot
  • Heating plate shuts off after 30 minutes

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Final thoughts

Since they are known for water filtering devices, Aqua-Optima markets the Aurora 10 Cup Drip Coffee Maker as a water filter that also makes coffee. I think they got that backward. The Aurora is one of the better coffee machines available. The only concern I have is that it may be more than what most people want or need as they are rushing about at the beginning of their day. This is a machine made for those who take their coffee seriously.

Price: $249.99
Where to buy: Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided for free by Aqua-Optima. Aqua-Optima did not have a final say on the review and did not preview the review before it was published.

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