How Does It Compare?
Crafted from brightly polished stainless steel, both the Rocket Appartamento and Nuova Simonelli Oscar II are beautiful machines we’re torn between—we can’t decide which one we love more! If you’re in the market for a powerful, semi-automatic espresso machine, you’re in the right place. Both machines are built by well-loved manufacturers in the coffee community, so whichever way you go, you’ll have plenty of fellow coffee lovers to show off too!
The main difference between the Oscar II and the Appartamento is control. The Oscar II features programmable shot time buttons, while the Appartamento offers mechanical control over the entire brew process. To that point, the Oscar II has no option to change the factory-set pre-infusion time, unlike the Appartamento’s manual pre-infusion brew lever. The Oscar II, however, is NSF certified! If you’re a small business looking for a fantastic machine, the Oscar II is suitable for a commercial environment and with the two programmable buttons anyone can make delicious espresso.
Operating these two heat exchangers feels completely different. The Rocket Appartamento features a manual operation reminiscent of classic lever espresso machines, but we’d call the Appartamento’s style contemporary. The Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is built with a set pre-infusion time without the option to customize and two programmable buttons—introducing the convenience of a superautomatic. The Oscar II’s programmed by time, not volume, so the consistency of your grind each time will affect the volume of your espresso. For instance, the finer the grind, the slower the flow. While there’s no manual extraction time on the Oscar II you can stop the flow of espresso at any time.
Side-by-side, the Appartamento was slimmer than the Oscar II. It may be small, but its espresso is anything short of spectacular. Designed with the legendary E61 brew head, the Appartamento produces consistently hot shots on par with the rest of the Rocket lineup. The 1.8-liter boiler is the same size as the Rocket Espresso Cellini Evoluzione V2 and only 0.2-liters smaller than the Oscar II—so the Oscar II has the Appartamento beat there.
Pro Tip: We recommend pulling seven seconds of hot water to heat the brew head and portafilter, so they don’t cool your shot. Since these are heat exchangers, it’ll also purge warm and stagnant water that’s been sitting in the tube.
We’re pleased both machines included commercial-grade portafilters. The Appartamento comes with two heavy-duty, stainless steel portafilters, in single and double spout options with interchangeable single and double baskets. The Oscar II features breakaway spouts on their one double spout portafilter with a single or double shot basket (no second portafilter for the Oscar). Rocket included more heavy-duty accessories such as their sleek metal tamper whereas Nuova Simonelli dropped in a plastic guy—not a deal breaker, but we’re more appreciative of Rocket’s thoughtfulness.
Of course, if you’re considering the Oscar II, you know by now that Nuova Simonelli’s steam power is famous—Barista Championship famous. They’re the official espresso machine for the competition and the proof is in the microfoam. The four hole tip evenly heats milk in all directions while the steam pressure is nice and dry, perfect for incorporating air into the milk. With the Oscar II’s updated 360° rotating ball joint, it’s easy to texture milk at any angle and achieve the ideal foam whether you’re a latte or cappuccino lover. It is a traditional wand, so have a towel on hand to wipe away milk. We’d still call the OScar II an entry-level to a prosumer machine, but the spring-loaded lever makes it difficult to regulate steam pressure.
The Rocket Appartamento, like its other siblings, has an anti-burn traditional steam wand and dedicated hot water spout. Anti-burn doesn’t mean it’s cool to the touch—seriously, use caution—but it’ll help milk from sticking on. Don’t skip wiping down the wand! You’ll still want to purge and clean it like the Oscar II’s wand. We’ll also add that the steam pressure on the Appartamento is powerful and capable of creating beautiful latte art worthy microfoam, however, it’s a lot harder to control. Texturing milk takes practice and practice makes perfect, so don’t give up with either machine.
Mamma mia! Handcrafted in Italy, each Rocket is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind machine in every box. The Rocket Appartamento introduced big, beautiful and bold dots on the sides and we’re absolutely smitten with the new design! The SCG Crew is, of course, in a heated debate about which color is best—copper or white—and it’s safe to say there’s no ending that topic anytime soon. The colored cutouts correspond with the wide, stout feet on the Appartamento, which are noticeably bigger when you remove the drip tray like an adorable, large-footed puppy. Make no mistake, while the Appartamento’s sized for an apartment, it’s a fierce espresso machine. Its small footprint is packed with commercial-grade features.
The updated style of the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II has left us starstruck! This famous machine is carved to reflect the light like the futuristic cyborg it reminds us of—Cylon, anyone? The stainless steel casing extends to the front and sides but is replaced in the brew head with a chrome-coated plastic. Still, the curves and edges complement this powerful heat exchanger. Even the less-desirable steam switch sticking out at the top can be overlooked by its new extended steam wand (though we’re still not a big fan).
We’re still torn between the Rocket Appartamento and Nuova Simonelli Oscar II, but it’s easier to decide once you know what you want. If you want 100% control, the Appartamento is your guy. If you love the convenience of a superautomatic, but want to have more control, then you want the Oscar II. Both have updated styles with polished stainless steel that shines like a beacon to your espresso. Their unique style and shape will also make it easy for you to decide on which is best. The Oscar II’s curved edges are nothing like the Appartamento’s boxy body. These two heat exchangers make it hard for a Crew to decide, but you know what, we like options here at Seattle Coffee Gear. We’re curious what you guys think about the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II and Rocket Appartamento—drop us a comment and tell us which one you’re leaning towards. Also, don’t forget to tell us if you like the Appartamento in copper or white—we’ve got a debate to settle.