In this guide, we're going to be comparing the Nuova Simonelli Musica with the Oscar II. We'll be covering all of the important details that you need to know about to help you make the right decision.
Expect to find...
- A rundown of the most significant similarities and differences between these machines.
- Pricing considerations for budgeting purposes.
- Which machine you should buy according to your individual or business needs.
Nuova Simonelli Musica
Designed with high-tech features, this espresso machine will impress the home user and small business alike. If you're looking for a high-performance machine with both style and functionality for a small coffee shop, restaurant or even a hotel, this one is for you.
Nuova Simonelli Oscar II
Home users love this machine's straightforward commercial features that deliver professional results right in your kitchen, at the office, or even in a small business setting. Pick this machine if you want some basic commercial features and a low price tag.
Single Brew Group
These similarly compact machines come with one brew group, making them ideal for small operations and prosumers.
You won't be able to pull multiple espresso shots at one time with either of these machines, which is why you wouldn't purchase them for larger businesses.
Instead, they're designed to allow you to craft expert espressos one at at a time, which is perfect for slower-paced environments.
With pre-infusion, these machines will facilitate even extraction and therefore a better-tasting espresso.
The pre-infusion systems work by releasing a low-pressure stream of water to the coffee bed in the group head, settling and saturating the grounds before the full-pressure water stream is released.
What this does is prevent channeling that would keep the water from reaching all of the coffee particles. Conveniently, it also reduces the effect of improper tamping that might throw off the extraction.
Because both machines have pre-infusion settings, you won't have to miss these advantages by choosing one over the other.
The heat exchangers in these espresso machines provide temperature consistency that's important for the brew process.
Temperature greatly affects espresso flavor and acidity. When you set the temperature, you want it to remain as constant as possible to guard against fluctuations that could alter the espresso.
The Nuova Simonelli Musica and Oscar II will ensure temperature stability while you brew and steam milk simultaneously.
It accomplishes this by siphoning water from the boiler and heating it as it moves through to the group head for the correct brew temperature, which is separate from steam temperature.
Ultimately, you'll be able to pull espresso shots and steam milk for lattes and cappuccinos without having to keep a close watch on the temperature as it will be quite stable already.
See Also: Espresso Machine Boiler Types
These stainless steel machines are pretty to look at with their mirror shine. But they also function as actual mirrors for greater visibility from the first drops of espresso to the end of the brew cycle.
You'll be looking for key visual indicators of the health of your espresso shots, including color, body and timing.
These are easier to see if you get physically closer to look at the espresso—unless you have the reverse mirror, which lets you see what you're doing without having to hunch down.
Push Pull Steam
To make these machines more ergonimic, Nuova Simonelli has installed push-pull levers to activate steaming.
The problem with having to twist a knob to open up the steam channel is that it gets really tiring after a full day of latte making.
If you don't use the machine too often, it's probably not an issue, but baristas would definitely opt for the more user-friendly push-pull steam tab that's gentler on their wrists.
Read next: Find the top commercial espresso machines on this post.
Direct Connect and Pour Over Options
You can order both the Musica and the Oscar II in direct-connect or pour-over configurations.
What this means is that you're either opting for a machine that hooks up to a water line for automatic reservoir refill (the direct-connect) or one that you'll manually refill (the pour-over).
Especially if you're going to be using the machine often, direct-connect options are better. For one thing, you won't need to stop in the middle of drink making to replenish the water, which can quickly clog up the drink line in coffee shops.
You can also install a water softener to prevent scale buildup that will break down the machine, or a filter that will improve the flavor of the water, and thus the espresso.
But if you have a preference for one over the other, rest assured that you can have whichever one you like best in both the Nuova Simonelli Musica and Oscar II.
Timed Dosing vs. Volumetric Dosing
This is a relatively small difference between the two machines. The Musica has programmable volumetric dosing, which equates to automatic dosing by shot volume.
With the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II, you'll be programming shots by time instead of volume.
These methods will create differences in how you dial in the grind, but both are easy to operate and ensure that the machine ends the brew cycle at the correct volume or time as indicated.
Why are these features helpful? Programmable dosing means that the machine is doing some of the work for you, which lets you multitask. Another benefit is that it helps users of any skill levels create perfect espresso shots.
Musica Manual Dosing Button
While both of these machines offer programmable dosing, only one of them provides an optional manual dosing button.
In addition to volumetric dosing, you can choose manual dosing with the Musica. To brew manually, you'll hit the button both to start and stop the brew cycle, which will give you full control and allow you to pull shorter or longer shots.
Manual dosing does take more finesse, but it's an option that many knowledgeable baristas and prosumers enjoy having access to.
Musica Surface LEDs
The Musica is quite a breathtaking piece of equipment. It's sleek, elegant and designed with surface LEDs placed around the machine.
This lets the barista see what they're doing in greater detail, even in soft lighting. It's also just an aesthetically pleasing element that you, baristas and cafe clientele can appreciate.
Note: This feature is optional in the Musica—you can get it with surface LEDs in the Lux model or without them in the standard model.
The Nuova Simonelli Musica and Oscar II both come with boiler indicators, but they work a little differently.
There is a boiler pressure gauge on the Musica that allows you to keep an eye on the exact boiler pressure, which will tell you when the machine is ready to brew and steam.
The Oscar II has a light on the silicone touch pad that will indicate when the machine is ready, which essentially does the same thing as the Musica boiler pressure gauge.
However, the indicator light on the Oscar II doesn't give you as much information, and you may need to give it a little extra time during its initial heat-up for the day even after the light goes off.
If you're like most prosumers, part of your decision-making process is going to involve assessing the features of the machine, and part of it is going to entail budgeting.
Because the Oscar II is the more basic machine, it comes with a lower price tag at $1,295 for the pour-over version and $1,620 for the direct-connect.
Our Musica machines without surface LEDs are also priced competitively at $2,245 for pour-over configurations and $2,925 for direct-connect. The Lux surface LED models in the pour-over style are $2,515 and the pour-over versions are $3,240.
So Which Should You Buy?
The answer to this questions depends on the applications you're purchasing the machine for.
Are you an individual coffee enthusiast buying a commercial espresso machine for your home or office? If this describes you, the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is a great buy.
It's like the basic version of the Musica with fewer advanced features, but with the same ability to produce high-quality espresso.
Even restaurants that sell the odd espresso can get a lot of use out of the Oscar II. Just bear in mind that users will need to be trained to start and end the brew cycle for proper extraction.
For small coffee shops, hotels and businesses that see high volumes of drinks orders on a daily basis, the Musica is a wise investment.
The volumetric dosing alone is hugely helpful. Baristas can hit the brew button and then get back to working on multiple drink orders since the brew cycle will automatically end.
Users in any learning stage can also count on a high level of consistency as the programming reduces human error.
Have you ever avoided a coffee shop when you knew that a certain barista was making drinks that didn't taste like they were worth the five bucks you were spending on them?
The powerful combination of pre-infusion and volumetric dosing helps to mitigate this issue as different baristas will be producing espresso with the same programming and extraction quality.
The LED lights on the Musica are also beneficial for adding visual value to both the professional atmosphere and espresso production.
Really, the Musica can be a great machine for individual prosumers and office employees just like the Oscar II, especially since it offers the best of both the volumetric and manual dosing worlds.
But if the price difference is making you think twice, you won't be sacrificing quality with the Oscar II.