Are you looking for an espresso machine that allows you to control your brewing experience but still has some automated features?

One brewer that fits the bill is the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II.

Whether you're a seasoned home barista or want to open a boutique coffee shop, this semi-automatic machine promises an engaging brewing experience without overwhelming you with complexity.

The question is: can it live up to its promise? I recently tested this machine and have all the details for you below.

Brew Quality

5.0

Build Quality

4.5

Ease Of Use

4.0


Overall Rating

4.5

Overall, I would rate the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II a 4.5 out of 5 for its commercial-grade performance, remarkable durability, and authentic barista experience it offers. Here's why:

  • Professional Grade Espresso Extraction
  • High-Quality Steam Power
  • Heat Exchange Boiler
  • Available in Two Versions
  • Manual Operation

Pros

  • Superior Espresso Extraction
  • Heat Exchange System
  • User-friendly Interface
  • Volumetric Control

Cons

  • Manual Frother
  • Lacks a Built-in Grinder
  • No Pressure Gauge and Over Pressure Valve

Who Should Buy The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II?

The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is ideal for serious home baristas craving control and experimentation in their espresso-making. 

Its manual operation and heat-exchange boiler enable simultaneous brewing and milk steaming, saving precious time.

It is also perfect for small businesses, like boutique coffee shops or bed and breakfasts, as it promises reliability, speed, and quality in a high-demand setting.

However, it's not a great choice if you serve a larger customer base.


Why I Decided To Review The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine

Since starting my home barista journey, I've been on the hunt for machines that let me get hands-on with my coffee.

The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II caught my eye with its semi-automatic features, allowing the user to get involved in the brewing process.

As an Italian machine, it naturally raised the question: does it truly deliver on the quality and tradition the country is known for? Of course, I had to try it out.

Testing Conditions

Days Tested

30

Cups Brewed Per Day

Up to 10 cups

Level Of Experience Needed

Intermediate

Reviewer Background

Home brewing hobbyist who started with a basic drip coffee machine and gradually upgraded to espresso machines. My current machine is a Breville Barista Pro.

Environment Tested

Home and Espresso cart

Money Saved Per Year

Approximately $450 in the first year and approximately $2450 in the following years once the machine is paid for.

Favorite Drink To Brew

Espresso and latte art

What’s It Like To Live With The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

Ever dreamed of living inside a coffee shop? Well, that will be your life if you have an Oscar II at home. However, there's one catch. You'll be your own barista.

If you love the intricacies of pulling an espresso shot, you’ll definitely appreciate this machine.

So, let me show you how this espresso machine made me the barista of my dreams.

What’s In The Box?

I couldn't wait to dive in when the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II arrived at my door.

The packaging was solid, and everything was secure, signaling that Nuova Simonelli has a good handle on quality control.

On unboxing, you'll find a well-organized set of accessories, including:

  • The Oscar II machine itself
  • Single-cup filter
  • Two cup filter
  • Coffee press
  • Spring
  • Filter holder
  • Coffee nozzle
  • Coffee measure

One important detail you should know about: the Oscar II is available in two versions, the reservoir model and the direct connect version. 

I opted for the one with the water reservoir because it's a good fit for my home setup—no need for a dedicated water line, and I like to manually fill the machine.

If you plan to use it commercially, I suggest you use the direct connect version. Do note that these two versions aren't interchangeable.

Pulling My First Espresso Shot

I have worked with several espresso machines before the Oscar II, but most are on the automatic side—grinding, dosing, and the actual pulling.

You know, those super-automatic machines and the semi-automatic ones that are mostly automated.

So, when I got my hand on this machine, I was basically a newbie. Although it is still a semi-automatic machine, most of the work is on me.

That's why my espresso-making journey with this professional espresso machine is tedious yet rewarding.

Grinding The Beans

The Oscar II doesn't have a built-in grinder, so I used my favorite conical burr grinder, the Bodum Bistro, to prepare my coffee beans. 

The absence of a built-in grinder was a blessing in disguise as it provided me the freedom to experiment with different grind sizes, discovering the ideal texture for my espresso.

With this machine, a slightly coarser grind produces more crema, while a finer one produces a richer, bolder flavor. 

If you don't own a grinder, don't worry. You can use pre-ground coffee too. However, it won't produce a good espresso shot by my standards.

Remember that getting the perfect grind size is essential for a stellar extraction process.[1]

Therefore, I suggest you invest in a conical burr grinder. Not only will it make your espresso better, but it will provide consistency in your shots.

Grinding The Beans Using The Bodum Bistro

Filling The Portafilter

Many of you may argue that this isn't a critical step to review. After all, it's just filling the portafilter with coffee grounds, right?

Well, for this specific machine, I need to lightly touch upon this subject since Oscar II requires manual handling. This means I have full authority over how much coffee goes into each shot.

One thing I love about this espresso machine is the portafilter size, 58mm, which is professional grade. 

This type of portafilter ensures that you get a stable temperature throughout the extraction process.

On top of that, the machine features a soft infusion system. So, for beginners brave enough to battle this machine (like me), even if your tamping isn't perfect, you can still get a balanced extraction.

This system works by releasing a small trickle of water to smooth out the grounds.

Espresso Tamp After Filling The Portafilter

Pulling the Actual Shot

Being a semi-automatic machine, the Oscar II requires manual input when pulling a shot.

It started with pre-infusion—pre-infusing the coffee grounds with a slow water stream, which then ramped up to a full 9-bar pressure, bringing to life a sumptuous, full-bodied shot of espresso. 

Do note that this machine has only one group head, unlike others that have several group heads.

I'd like to point out that this machine features programmable timed dosing. This allows you to pre-program the exact duration for single and double shots.

So, when you're ready to brew, a simple press of either the single or double shot button prompts the machine to brew your espresso and stop precisely at the pre-set time.

However, while the timed dosing feature provides ease and consistency, it has some downsides. The timed dosing doesn't account for varying grind sizes or bean freshness, which can influence extraction time.

If your grind is slightly off or your beans are a bit older than usual, a pre-set time might not result in the optimal shot.

Thus, even with the convenience of this feature, manual oversight and occasional adjustments may still be required to ensure you're pulling the best possible espresso shots.

The shot was significantly richer than what I had experienced with the Barista Express, one of the machines I own, and was comparable to espressos from reputable coffee shops.

My espresso was dark, syrupy, loaded with flavor, and had an excellent body. In terms of crema, my preferred grind setting didn't produce much, but that could just be my preference.

Interestingly, upon tweaking the grind to be slightly coarser, as mentioned, I noticed more crema at the expense of a slight dip in flavor and body. I’d prefer a more flavorful espresso than having crema, but that’s just me.

In a nutshell, my first shot-pulling experience with the new Oscar espresso machine is just what I expected from it.

Operating it was indeed delightful. It perfectly blended traditional manual espresso making with a handful of automatic features to facilitate a smooth and gratifying coffee brewing process.

It’s actually surprising that my first pull turned out great, especially with all my doubts about my skill.

Still, I’d say you need to have a little experience with espresso machines up your sleeve to be able to use this brewer.

Pulling An Espresso Shot On The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

First Time Frothing Milk

One of the key features of this machine is the Heat Exchange boiler. You're in for a treat if you're used to a single boiler machine.

This type of heating allows you to simultaneously brew espresso and steam milk, which is why I recommend it for small businesses looking to offer coffee to their customers.

Making your first froth with the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II can be an enlightening experience, especially if you're used to automatic frothers.

This machine is equipped with a professional-grade steam wand, a feature that caters to barista-level control and creativity when steaming milk for your espresso drinks.

For my first froth, I filled the steaming pitcher with cold whole milk and plunged the steam wand into it, ensuring the tip was just below the surface. 

As I opened the steam valve, I was surprised by the steam power. It's quite strong for such a compact machine.

The milk that came out was velvety and smooth, with just the right temperature and texture for a perfect cappuccino and latte art. 

However, it's important to note that this was not achieved without skill and focus. The manual frother requires a bit of practice to hit the sweet spot, so if you haven’t tried using one, your first time frothing milk will be a disaster.

It's also worth noting that, unlike machines with automated frothers, you'll need to manually clean the steam tip and wand after each use. It also doesn’t have a tap for hot water.

Nevertheless, the quality of the froth and the control you get with the Oscar II makes it a stand-out choice for espresso enthusiasts who love crafting their milk-based drinks.

Frothing Milk With The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

How Much Control Do You Have Over The Brewing Experience?

With Oscar II, you’re pretty much in control of the brewing experience. Although it's a semi-automatic machine, it offers a level of control that can be quite enticing if you're passionate about fine-tuning your espresso brewing experience.

First, it doesn’t have a built-in grinder, which means you have the freedom to choose a grinder of your preference and fully control the grind settings.

This is something I found particularly useful as I enjoy experimenting with different coffee beans and grind sizes.

Next is the steam wand. It features a rotary pump for consistent pressure. It also has a cup warmer, ensuring that you keep your espresso at optimal temperature.

Lastly, this machine is equipped with programmable shot timing, which is handy, especially if you're not yet used to manually timing your shot.

So, while Oscar II provides ample control, it also demands a good understanding of the coffee brewing process. 

This makes it a perfect pick for coffee enthusiasts who relish the process of mastering their brew.

Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Button Settings

How Does It Handle Different Roasts?

The Oscar II is pretty versatile when it comes to handling different types of roasts. Well, it’s actually you who has control over it, not the machine.

In other words, you need to have some understanding of how to brew different roasts, especially since grinding is your job when you’re using this machine.

Barista HQ Tip!

Light roast coffee beans should be ground more finely, while dark roasts should be brewed at high temperatures.

Close-up View Of Coffee Beans

Look, Feel, and Size Of The Machine

I'm not really a fan of the look of Oscar II. However, most people will disagree with me.

It boasts a sturdy and robust design, with its stainless steel body exuding durability and an industrial aesthetic that makes it feel like a piece of professional coffee equipment. A bit utilitarian, which is why it's not my cup of tea.

One thing that I find handy is its reverse mirror. This allows me to see the shot I’m pulling from every angle.

As for size, the Oscar II is not a small machine by any stretch, measuring 16 x 12 x 16 inches. It is a little larger than some home espresso machines, but it's by no means oversized.

However, due to its height and substantial construction, you'll want to make sure you have enough counter space to accommodate it, as well as enough clearance under any overhead cabinets.

Keep in mind that this machine is heavier than it looks, weighing in at a hefty 29 pounds, so it's not something you'll want to move around frequently.

Look, Feel, and Size Of The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

What Drinks Can It Make?

The Oscar II can make a variety of espresso drinks, especially if you have the skill. 

Unlike other semi-automatic machines, like the Breville Barista Touch, which comes with pre-programmed drinks, this brewer relies completely on your skill.

So, if you can pull a shot properly and steam milk, you pretty much can do a lot of espresso-based drinks using this machine.

Making Drinks With The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

How Easy Is It To Use?

This espresso machine has a learning curve and requires a bit of patience. If you're used to machines with automated, high-end features, this can feel like a piece of history. 

From the manual steam wand to using a separate grinder, there are many things you need to master before you can completely dominate this machine.

If you have the reservoir version, you will get an alert when the water level is low, which I think is pretty handy and makes this machine easier to use.

Using The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

How Long Does It Take? (From Heat Up To First Sip)

The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II has a fast heat-up time thanks to its heat exchanger boiler system.

Once switched on, the brewer takes around 15 minutes to fully heat up. 

While this may seem like a while compared to other machines, it's important to note that this time allows the entire machine—not just the water—to reach a consistent temperature, which is crucial for good espresso extraction.

Once the machine is heated, pulling an espresso shot takes between 20 to 30 seconds, depending on your specific grind and dose. 

If you fancy a milk-based drink, the steam wand is already hot and ready to froth your milk in just about a minute or so.

So, from the moment you switch the machine on to the first sip of your coffee, you're looking at approximately 16 to 18 minutes.

Heat Up To First Sip With The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

Does It Have A Water Filtration System?

No, the Oscar II doesn't come with a built-in water filtration system. 

However, if you live in an area that doesn't meet Nuova Simonelli's required water specification, you will need to install a water filter.[2] If you don’t, your warranty will be voided.

Thankfully, you can buy a separate complete water filtration online, or you can order one when you order this machine. The downside is that it's an additional cost for you.

Adding Water To The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

How Hard Is It To Clean and Descale?

Cleaning and descaling the Oscar II is pretty easy, especially if you have the plumbed version with a filtration system. This is because the water coming out of the line is filtered already.

When it comes to everyday cleaning, the Oscar II is simple to maintain. The drip tray is removable, allowing for easy emptying and rinsing. 

The group head should be flushed after each use to remove any coffee residues, and the portafilter should be cleaned with a brush to remove leftover coffee grounds.

As for descaling, the process is vital to prolong the life of your machine and keep it running smoothly.

The Oscar II doesn't have an automatic notification for descaling, so it's recommended to do it at least once every 3-4 months, depending on the hardness of your water and the frequency of use.

Clean And Steam The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

My Favorite Parts About The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Coffee Maker

The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II has made a remarkable impact on my coffee experience. Here are some important points I loved the most about it:

  • Superior Espresso Extraction: The Oscar II uses professional- and commercial-grade components to ensure high-quality espresso extraction.
  • Heat Exchange System: The heat exchange system allows for simultaneous brewing and steaming, significantly reducing the waiting time between pulling a shot and frothing milk. This system is also energy efficient.
  • User-friendly Interface: Despite its professional-level features, the Oscar II is relatively simple to operate. The straightforward control panel is easy to understand, making the brewing process an enjoyable experience rather than a daunting task.
  • Volumetric Control: I'm a big fan of the volumetric controls on this machine. The ability to pre-set the water volume for single and double shots allows for consistent espresso, whether I'm making a quick morning shot or crafting a complex specialty drink.
Making Coffee With The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

My Least Favorite Parts About The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

While I genuinely appreciate the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II, some aspects of the machine could have been better.

  • Manual Frother: My biggest gripe with the Oscar II is its manual frother. For those new to the espresso game, it might take some time to master the art of milk frothing.
  • Lacks a Built-in Grinder: While this is not uncommon for machines of its caliber, it does mean you'll need to invest in a separate quality grinder to ensure you're getting the most out of your coffee beans.
  • No Pressure Gauge or Over Pressure Valve: Having a bar pump gauge can help you keep tabs on the boiler's pressure. Unfortunately, the Oscar II doesn't have one.

Because of these downsides, I recommend this machine to more experienced baristas. For beginners, it’s going to be quite a challenge to use it.


Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Vs Similar Machines

I have also reviewed several other espresso machines in the $1500 price range. Some of the popular models are compared head-to-head below.

Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Vs Breville Dual Boiler

The Breville Dual Boiler and the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II are both high-quality semi-automatic machines that appeal to different coffee lovers.

The Breville Dual Boiler offers more user-friendly features like a digital temperature control and a dual boiler system that allows simultaneous brewing and frothing.

On the other hand, the Oscar II doesn't have such advanced features but shines with its commercial-grade build quality and performance, making it suitable for those who value durability and a more traditional espresso brewing experience.

Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Vs Breville Dual Boiler

Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Vs Rancilio Silvia

Both the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II and the Rancilio Silvia are well-regarded machines in the espresso world, and both offer excellent performance.

However, Oscar II has a heat exchanger boiler, allowing for simultaneous brewing and steaming, a feature the single boiler Rancilio Silvia lacks.

In contrast, the Silvia is compact and made with high-quality materials, making it an excellent fit for those with limited space but still want a sturdy, reliable machine.

Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Vs Rancilio Silvia

Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Vs Rocket Appartamento

Both machines offer excellent heat exchange systems, allowing you to brew and steam simultaneously.

The Appartamento, however, scores higher on aesthetics with its unique circular side panel design and shiny stainless steel body.

In terms of performance, both machines are quite similar, although the Appartamento might have a slight edge with its larger boiler and higher-end components.

Nevertheless, the Oscar II is a great option for those who prioritize a commercial-grade machine that delivers consistent results at a more affordable price.

Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Vs Rocket Appartamento

FAQs

How much is a Nuova Simonelli Oscar professional?

The price of Oscar II ranges from $2000 to $2100, depending on the type of version you’re getting.

Which country is Nuova Simonelli made?

Nuova Simonelli machines, like Nuova Simonelli Musica and Oscar II, are made from Italy.

Does Nuova Simonelli offer customer support?

Yes, the Simonelli Group North America offers technical support to help customers make the most out of their machines.

Conclusion - Is The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Worth Your Money?

I can confidently say that the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is a worthy investment, especially if you are already an experienced barista or a small business owner who appreciates a more traditional espresso brewing experience.

This espresso machine offers commercial-grade performance, making it perfect for users who wish to refine their espresso brewing skills and offer quality espressos.

However, for those seeking more modern conveniences such as digital temperature control and ease of use, the Breville Dual Boiler could be a better fit.

On the other hand, if space is a concern, but you still want a reliable, robust machine, the Rancilio Silvia would be an excellent choice.

Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine

Brew Quality

5.0

Build Quality

4.5

Ease Of Use

4.0


Overall Rating

4.5

References: 

1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44886-w
2. https://www.simonelliusa.com/PDFs/Oscar%20II/OscarII-SpecSheet-All.pdf

Kim Fernandez

Author

Kim Fernandez
Kim offers a unique perspective on coffee culture and trends. Kim's writing is personal and experiential, providing readers with firsthand advice on the latest in coffee. Beyond her writing, Kim is an avid explorer of new coffee trends and spots, always seeking to share the most genuine advice and latest trends. True to her love for coffee, you'll often find her in a café, immersed in a book with a freshly brewed cup of joe.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... A freshly brewed cup of joe

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