Breville Barista Express vs Oscar 2: Compare Two Top-notch Semi-Auto Machines

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In the comparison between the Breville Barista Express vs Oscar 2, each one is worth considering for various reasons, but the Barista Express is the better one, after all.

With the Barista Express, you don’t need to worry about hunting for a standalone grinder because it has a built-in one. It also heats up very quickly and has a hot water function. I also love that it allows you to tweak a few settings to dial in your shots.

As for the Oscar II, it’d be a sleek, handsome piece of art in your kitchen. The most special thing about this one is that it can brew coffee and steam milk at once despite having just one boiler. It’s powerful 4-hole steam wand is also great for latte art.

Breville Barista Express vs Oscar 2: Specs & Features Comparison Chart

Image
THE WINNER (#1)
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine,3 liters
Model
Breville Barista Express
Nuova Simonelli Oscar II
Dimensions/Weight
20.1 x 17.2 x 17.2 inches/30 lbs
16 x 16 x 12 inches/27 lbs
Interface
Button-Operated Interface
Button-Operated Interface
One Touch Drink Options
2
2
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
18
Heating System
Single Thermocoil
Heat Exchanger
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Manual Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 L/0.25 Kg
3 L/None
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$697.99
$1,495.00
THE WINNER (#1)
Image
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Barista Express
Dimensions/Weight
20.1 x 17.2 x 17.2 inches/30 lbs
Interface
Button-Operated Interface
One Touch Drink Options
2
Built-in Grinder
Stainless Steel Conical Burr Grinder
Grinding Settings
18
Heating System
Single Thermocoil
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 L/0.25 Kg
Filter
Yes (Optional)
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$697.99
More Info
THE RUNNER-UP (#2)
Image
Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine,3 liters
Model
Nuova Simonelli Oscar II
Dimensions/Weight
16 x 16 x 12 inches/27 lbs
Interface
Button-Operated Interface
One Touch Drink Options
2
Built-in Grinder
Grinding Settings
Heating System
Heat Exchanger
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Pre-Infusion
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
3 L/None
Filter
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
User Profile
What I Like
Price
$1,495.00
More Info

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Breville Barista Express vs Oscar 2: Differences

The Barista Express defeated the Oscar II with a close 3-2 victory. Let’s rush right into the nitty-gritty and see what makes the winner tick and how close the runner-up came!

Coffee Flavor & Brewing System

Winner: Breville Barista Express

Built-in Grinder 

The Breville Barista Express features a stainless steel cone grinder complete with a dial on the side, letting you play around with 18 grind settings. The Oscar II misses a built-in grinder, so you’ll need to buddy it up with a burr coffee grinder.

the barista express has an integrated burr grinder with 18 different grind sizes
The Barista Express has an integrated burr grinder with 18 different grind sizes

Sure, having a built-in grinder is pretty convenient, but personally, I’m all for the separate grinder life. Sure, it might cost as much as the coffee machine itself, but this setup not only opens up a world of options but also makes life easier if you ever need to replace or fix the grinder.

If you’re willing to splurge on the best, eyeball a good electric grinder like the Baratza Sette 270Wi. Oh, and if your wallet is giving you the side-eye, a manual coffee grinder like the 1Zpresso J Max could be your best friend.

Dosing & Tamping

Unboxing the Oscar II, you will get a 58mm portafilter that means business and a pair of single-wall filter baskets. Using single-wall baskets means you’ll need to do a bit more work fine-tuning your dose and grind size, but you’ll get a top-notch coffee shot as a bonus. A little effort for amazing coffee? Absolutely!

On the other hand, the Barista Express comes out of the box with a well-built 54mm portafilter and both single- and double-wall filter baskets. So whether you’re a beginner or an ambitious home barista, there’s something for you.

the barista express includes both single- and dual-wall filter baskets
The Barista Express includes both single- and dual-wall filter baskets

While the Oscar II struts in with that impressive commercial-grade portafilter, it brings along a bit of a letdown with its flimsy plastic espresso tamper. And despite forking out a pretty penny for this machine, you’ll still need to dig a bit deeper to snag a milk pitcher.

the barista express comes with a disappointing plastic tamper
The Barista Express comes with a disappointing plastic tamper

The Barista Express comes with an okay stainless steel tamper, which can be attached to the machine via magnetism. You’ll also receive a stainless steel milk jug right out of the box.

Heating System

The Barista Express uses a Thermocoil to be ready to go in 30 seconds, which is super amazing. Sure, it can’t multi-task and takes time to switch gears between brewing and steaming, but that’s just a matter of seconds.

The Oscar II is also a single-boiler machine, but it uses a copper heat exchanger, allowing you to prepare espresso and steam milk simultaneously. Besides being a time-saver, it is also kinder to your energy bill since the machine only needs to heat up one boiler.

Unlike the Barista Express, the Oscar II has no PID controller but uses a pressure stat instead. This is very common with heat exchanger-fitted machines, where a PID is not really necessary. And it indeed keeps the price tag a bit more down to earth.

Brewing System

Both have a pre-infusion function. With the Oscar II, the Italian brand has jazzed it up with the name “soft infusion.” Whatever! Both machines gently wet the coffee puck under low pressure before the full-pressure extraction process kicks in to wake up all the delicious aromas and flavors of coffee. The Barista Express even allows you to lengthen or shorten the pre-infusion duration if you’re not satisfied with the 10-second factory setting.

Design & Convenience

Winner: Tie

Dimensions & User Interface

Breville Barista ExpressNuova Simonelli Oscar II
Dimensions20.1 x 17.2 x 17.2 inches16 x 16 x 12 inches
Weight30 lbs27 lbs

If you lay your eyes on the Oscar II for the first time, you might not even think of it as an espresso machine. It features an odd space-age industrial design and shiny metal housing, which makes it look like a lost product from Stark Industries instead of a semi-automatic coffee machine.

the oscar ii's user interface
The Oscar II’s user interface

The Oscar II isn’t exactly compact, but it can probably sit on any tight spots on your counter or shelf. There is a two-button user interface on the top of the E61 brew group. It includes buttons (for single and double shots) and indicator lights for low water and boiler temperature – you don’t have to be a PhD to use it.

Likewise, the Barista Express also takes the “less plastic is fantastic” approach. It’s available in a brushed stainless steel finish, but I’m totally smitten with the “Black Sesame” casing option. It’s heavier and bulkier, so you’ll have a harder time carrying it around and finding a perfect spot for it.

the barista express's control panel
The Barista Express’s control panel

On the front-facing control panel of the Barista Express, you will find a few buttons and a large pressure gauge, which will help a lot in perfecting your shot. There are some hidden settings that need to be activated by pressing a combo of button presses, but you will get used to them soon.

Spout Type & Cup Clearance

Breville Barista ExpressNuova Simonelli Oscar II
Spout TypeDualDual
Cup Clearance4 inches4 inches

They both offer a generous amount of cup room under the portafilter spouts to fit all the espresso cups. You may even need to lift small espresso cups somehow to, you know, prevent splashing. And if you want to take your coffee on the go in a big insulated mug, you will probably need to remove their drip trays first.

Water Reservoir & Bean Hopper

Breville Barista ExpressNuova Simonelli Oscar II
Water Reservoir2.5 liter3 liter
Bean HopperNoneNone

Their large-for-home-use water tanks are removable for easy refilling and cleaning, but it would be better if they were located somewhere easier to access instead of tucked away at the back of the machines.

The Barista Express comes with a water filter, and whether you use it or not is your call. From the bottom of my heart, I recommend using it, unless you’re pouring bottled water into your machine. Tap water often contains impurities that can spoil the taste of your espresso, and over time, it can lead to limescale buildup inside the machine.

Milk Frothing System

Winner: Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

They use professional-grade steam wands, perfect for crafting that silky microfoam needed for a flat white or convincing latte art. Of course, you’ll have to deal with a learning curve initially, but soon enough, your barista-level skills will have your friends raising their eyebrows in awe.

Both wands are on a ball joint, meaning they twirl around 360 degrees. If you’ve ever struggled with a two-directional steam wand, you’ll understand how this makes sense.

the oscar ii's wand features a 4-hole tip
The Oscar II’s wand features a 4-hole tip

The Oscar II’s wand is significantly longer and features a 4-hole tip compared to the 1-hole configuration of the Barista Express. That way, the Oscar II produces so much steam pressure that you might need a bit of time to get the hang of it.

the barista express's 1-hole wand
The Barista Express’s 1-hole wand

Drink Options & Programmability

Winner: Breville Barista Express

Drink Options

Breville Barista ExpressNuova Simonelli Oscar II
Espresso
Hot Water
Espresso

These machines don’t have specialty one-touch drinks commonly found in super-auto machines. The Barista Express features a separate hot water spout close to the brew head. The Oscar II does not have this, which is a bit disappointing for those who enjoy Americanos or tea.

the hot water outlet
The hot water outlet

Programmability

Adjustable SettingsBreville Barista ExpressNuova Simonelli Oscar II
Coffee StrengthYesNo
Coffee TemperatureYesNo
Milk Foam TemperatureNoNo
Milk Foam TextureNoNo

You aren’t able to adjust any brewing parameters with the Oscar II, apart from the shot volume. The Barista Express, on the other hand, allows you to experiment with a number of settings, including the grind size, grind amount, pre-infusion time, and brewing temperature, and you’ll need to consult the user manual for guidance on these adjustments.

Quick Rundown Of Breville Barista Express

Sale
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine BES870XL, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Earn up to $200 cashback with a Beanz coffee subscription when you purchase a selected Breville espresso machine. Visit earn-cashback.breville.com purchase to claim. Valid Aug 1, 2023 until Jun 30, 2024
  • The Breville Barista Express delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula and is part of the Barista Series that offers all in one espresso machines with integrated grinder to go from beans to espresso in under one minute, helping you make the perfect cup of Cappuccino or Latte
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Integrated precision conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground coffee directly into the portafilter for your preferred taste with any roast of bean
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all the flavors are drawn out evenly during the extraction for a balanced tasting cup
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Adjustable grinder with 18 grind settings.
  • Good built-in steam wand.
  • A lot of adjustable settings.
  • Brews a tasty espresso.
  • Simple to use and clean.
Cons
  • No milk temperature control.
  • Requires trial and error to froth milk.

Quick Rundown Of Nuova Simonelli Oscar II

Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine,3 liters
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 16" x 12" x 16"
  • Espresso Machine Type: Semi-Automatic
  • Voltage: 110
  • Water Source: Pour-Over

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Heat exchanger boiler.
  • Good-looking design.
  • Easy to use.
  • Powerful steam wand.
  • Not bulky.
Cons
  • No adjustable settings.
  • Plastic tamper.
  • No hot water function.
  • Costly.

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References

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