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My Oscar died. Repair or replace?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > My Oscar died....  
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mitarbre
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Oct 2010
Posts: 49
Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Newco OCS-8
Posted Fri Jul 5, 2013, 3:37pm
Subject: My Oscar died. Repair or replace?
 

After 2.5 years of service my Oscar died yesterday. The problems started a couple of weeks ago when a faint sound of steam escaping appeared. Despite the leak everything worked for a while and then the machine stopped heating water. Lights are on (power and heating element) but nothing happens. The pump still works. I opened it and it appears that the leak is somewhere around water level probe judging from the green patina that formed around it. I can't pinpoint the exact location of the leak since the machine wont heat the water. I attached a photo in case someone can figure out the problem from it.


Can anyone estimate how much it would cost me to repair assuming that I do the repairs myself? Do I need to replace the boiler? The insulation crumbles so it has to be replaced.

Am I better off buying a new machine and if so can anyone please recommend a good HX machine (DB is OK too)? Here are the answers to the standard questions:

1)  What kind of drinks do you like/want to make?
Espresso 20% of the time, lattes and cappuccinos the rest.
2)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself needing to make at any one time?
Two, very rarely 4 or more.
3)  How many drinks, on average, do you see yourself making in any given week?
100-150.
4)  Can you plumb a machine directly into the water supply, or do you want/need a pour over machine with its own reservoir?
No plumbing, pour over only.
5)  Do you have a 20-amp circuit available, or only a (standard) 15-amp circuit?
15 amp circuit.
6)  What is your budget for a new machine?  Does that also include a grinder?  If not, what is your budget for a grinder?
2000 or so. Can stretch for a good reason but prefer to go lower. Already have Vario so don't need a new grinder.
7)  Are you willing to buy used or do you need new equipment?
No. If someone convinces me that I should go that route I'll fix my Oscar.
8)  Do you have the essential accessories (decent tamper, knockbox, the works), otherwise budget about $100 for these.
Yes, have them all.
9) Color?
If possible the machine should be red or at least some parts like side panels.

I'll greatly appreciate any suggestions, I'm starting to miss my coffee a lot and its been one day only...

mitarbre: photo.JPG
(Click for larger image)
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CoffeeRon
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 753
Location: Eatonville, Wa
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Lyra, Europiccola(still...
Grinder: Macap M7D, Pharos, Vario W,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam CoffeeMaster
Drip: Melita BCM-4
Roaster: FR SR500,B-1600, SC/TO
Posted Fri Jul 5, 2013, 4:53pm
Subject: Re: My Oscar died. Repair or replace?
 

Did I read that right- you make 15-20 drinks a day?

$2000 or so puts you in the "which machine do you prefer" category to an extent. There are a number of very good machine that would suit your needs very nicely. I know that doesn't help, do you have a short list? Any machines you've had your eye on?
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mitarbre
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Oct 2010
Posts: 49
Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Newco OCS-8
Posted Fri Jul 5, 2013, 6:04pm
Subject: Re: My Oscar died. Repair or replace?
 

CoffeeRon Said:

Did I read that right- you make 15-20 drinks a day?

$2000 or so puts you in the "which machine do you prefer" category to an extent. There are a number of very good machine that would suit your needs very nicely. I know that doesn't help, do you have a short list? Any machines you've had your eye on?

Posted July 5, 2013 link

It should read 10 drinks a day 95% of the time. As I said I miss my espresso, I can't do simple mental math anymore!


I don't have a short list nor any preferences. I started thinking about buying a new machine yesterday when my Oscar died. Actually I started thinking about a little bit earlier this week when I was in Seattle. I went to Espresso Vivace and ordered a machiato. I don't speak English well enough to describe how good it was. I never produced something as good with my setup. I live in a relatively small city and I thought that I was making great drinks which was true when compared to local cafes and starbucks but nowhere near Espresso Vivace. So in short I want a machine that will get me the same quality of drinks as Vivace in easiest way possible. I was kind of hoping that someone will come up with a short list to help me out. I usually spend a lot of time looking at technical specs but this time I just want the results regardless the technology so any help, suggestion, advice or opinion is greatly appreciated!
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CoffeeRon
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 753
Location: Eatonville, Wa
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Lyra, Europiccola(still...
Grinder: Macap M7D, Pharos, Vario W,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam CoffeeMaster
Drip: Melita BCM-4
Roaster: FR SR500,B-1600, SC/TO
Posted Fri Jul 5, 2013, 7:15pm
Subject: Re: My Oscar died. Repair or replace?
 

I've always liked the looks of the Quick Mills. I was looking on Chris Coffee to see what the introductory price of the new DB is but for some reason I'm not finding it, it's supposed to be a heck of a good machine. ECM would also be on my short list with your budget.

You should look into the differences between HX and dual boiler and decide which way you'd like to go there.  The QM67 Dual Boiler by Quick Mill would also come in under your budget and another one I'd personally love to see on my kitchen counter.
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frank828
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Feb 2011
Posts: 581
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Professional

Posted Sat Jul 6, 2013, 12:30am
Subject: Re: My Oscar died. Repair or replace?
 

mitarbre Said:

So in short I want a machine that will get me the same quality of drinks as Vivace in easiest way possible.

Posted July 5, 2013 link

look into a grinder upgrade.  

most likely vivace is using something better than a baratza vario.
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CoffeeRon
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 753
Location: Eatonville, Wa
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Lyra, Europiccola(still...
Grinder: Macap M7D, Pharos, Vario W,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam CoffeeMaster
Drip: Melita BCM-4
Roaster: FR SR500,B-1600, SC/TO
Posted Sat Jul 6, 2013, 10:04am
Subject: Re: My Oscar died. Repair or replace?
 

While it's true there are better grinders than the Vario, it is a good grinder and I think there's likely better espresso to be had with it than what you've been drinking, that goes as well for the Oscar. Remember there are four M's- but that's all a subject for a different thread.

Without a machine you're left high and dry. Of course your old machine is repairable, and there are mods to be done that would make it a better machine. Whether you want to go that route is up to you and whether it would be worth it would probably lie in part in whether you could do the work yourself. It sounds to me like you have a good excuse to upgrade your machine- I know that's what I'd do in your case.

Having spent some time getting to know the ins and outs of an HX machine I would have a difficult choice to make in regards to HX vs DB. I think in the end I would go with a Dual boiler. I tend to stick to one or two coffees at a time (whatever I roasted last week) and I would enjoy the ability to dial in the temp and forget about it. Leaving the steam boiler off most of the time would help my electric bill (a bit) and help keep me cooler in the summer.
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mitarbre
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Oct 2010
Posts: 49
Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Newco OCS-8
Posted Sat Jul 6, 2013, 12:05pm
Subject: Re: My Oscar died. Repair or replace?
 

CoffeeRon Said:

I've always liked the looks of the Quick Mills. I was looking on Chris Coffee to see what the introductory price of the new DB is but for some reason I'm not finding it, it's supposed to be a heck of a good machine. ECM would also be on my short list with your budget.

You should look into the differences between HX and dual boiler and decide which way you'd like to go there.  The QM67 Dual Boiler by Quick Mill would also come in under your budget and another one I'd personally love to see on my kitchen counter.

Posted July 5, 2013 link

Noted. QM67 is so far the first on the list. Do you recommend any particular ECM machine?

frank828 Said:

look into a grinder upgrade. most likely vivace is using something better than a baratza vario.

Posted July 6, 2013 link

Noted. Any suggestions? I have absolutely no idea what would be a better choice (new only) than Vario.

CoffeeRon Said:

While it's true there are better grinders than the Vario, it is a good grinder and I think there's likely better espresso to be had with it than what you've been drinking, that goes as well for the Oscar. Remember there are four M's- but that's all a subject for a different thread.

Posted July 6, 2013 link

I have put a lot of effort to learn about making espresso but I feel that Oscar was limiting in sense that it was extremely sensitive to the right grinding, dosing and tamping. Most likely because of its lack of OPV and pump putting more pressure than needed. I became very good at making latte art, I used top quality beans (Red Bird and even some from Vivace which my Oscar didn't convert into a heavenly espresso).

CoffeeRon Said:

Without a machine you're left high and dry. Of course your old machine is repairable, and there are mods to be done that would make it a better machine. Whether you want to go that route is up to you and whether it would be worth it would probably lie in part in whether you could do the work yourself. It sounds to me like you have a good excuse to upgrade your machine- I know that's what I'd do in your case.

Posted July 6, 2013 link

You're right 100% I do want upgrade and I'm actually happy to have a good excuse. Now all I need are some suggestions :)

CoffeeRon Said:

Having spent some time getting to know the ins and outs of an HX machine I would have a difficult choice to make in regards to HX vs DB. I think in the end I would go with a Dual boiler. I tend to stick to one or two coffees at a time (whatever I roasted last week) and I would enjoy the ability to dial in the temp and forget about it. Leaving the steam boiler off most of the time would help my electric bill (a bit) and help keep me cooler in the summer.

Posted July 6, 2013 link

I have a very hard time deciding between the two. I don't think that one makes better espresso than the other. I do however prefer HX slightly because only fresh water is used for brewing.


I was looking at Vivaldi II/ mini/dream, Rancilio Epoca ST1  and Nuova Simonelli Musica. What do you guys think of those? Are they overpriced? I read somewhere that Musica is overpriced for what it is (an upgraded Oscar).

Thanks for the help it is greatly appreciated!
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 658
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 10:31am
Subject: Re: My Oscar died. Repair or replace?
 

I will weigh in as someone who has recently gone from an Oscar to an ECM Technika IV. I loved my Oscar but, as you've said, its very sensitive to grind and tamp. With my new machine, its almost hard to pull a bad shot. Stale grocery store bin coffee, forgetting to flush, no grinder dialing--it just doesn't care. I would NOT recommend the Musical
, as it is identical to the Oscar, save for having a vacuum breaker, flow restrictors, and a site lever. I does not have Simonelli's commercial group and volumetric dosing is not worth an extra grand. I have no experience with Spaz, but I do like their designs as far as looks.  

For the price, the Oscar is a damned fine machine. It is limiting, though and I can definitely feel your need to upgrade. I would check out the Technika because it seems to have a confluence of features that really make it a good value for under 2K. I don't think I could go back to a vibe pump at this point.
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mitarbre
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Oct 2010
Posts: 49
Location: Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Newco OCS-8
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 11:59am
Subject: Re: My Oscar died. Repair or replace?
 

Markarian Said:

I will weigh in as someone who has recently gone from an Oscar to an ECM Technika IV. I loved my Oscar but, as you've said, its very sensitive to grind and tamp. With my new machine, its almost hard to pull a bad shot. Stale grocery store bin coffee, forgetting to flush, no grinder dialing--it just doesn't care. I would NOT recommend the Musical
, as it is identical to the Oscar, save for having a vacuum breaker, flow restrictors, and a site lever. I does not have Simonelli's commercial group and volumetric dosing is not worth an extra grand. I have no experience with Spaz, but I do like their designs as far as looks.  

For the price, the Oscar is a damned fine machine. It is limiting, though and I can definitely feel your need to upgrade. I would check out the Technika because it seems to have a confluence of features that really make it a good value for under 2K. I don't think I could go back to a vibe pump at this point.

Posted July 7, 2013 link

Thanks Markarian, it is a great input! I checked out the ECM Technika IV and it appeared perfect until I found out that the only place that sells them here in Canada (espressotec) doesn't have them in stock and they price them at $3000! Do you know of any other machine like ECM Technika IV?
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CoffeeRon
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 753
Location: Eatonville, Wa
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Lyra, Europiccola(still...
Grinder: Macap M7D, Pharos, Vario W,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam CoffeeMaster
Drip: Melita BCM-4
Roaster: FR SR500,B-1600, SC/TO
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 4:32pm
Subject: Re: My Oscar died. Repair or replace?
 

While it's true there are better grinders than the Vario, it is a good grinder and I think there's likely better espresso to be had with it than what you've been drinking, that goes as well for the Oscar. Remember there are four M's- but that's all a subject for a different thread.
Posted July 6, 2013

I have put a lot of effort to learn about making espresso but I feel that Oscar was limiting in sense that it was extremely sensitive to the right grinding, dosing and tamping. Most likely because of its lack of OPV and pump putting more pressure than needed. I became very good at making latte art, I used top quality beans (Red Bird and even some from Vivace which my Oscar didn't convert into a heavenly espresso).


Wasn't trying to imply you didn't know what you were doing - sorry if it sounded that way. (Of course don't we all have some room for improvement? Even in the WBC there's only one winner- it's all relative I think). I was really addressing the fact that your machine could be modded to give better results, and that the grinder would be better discussed in a different thread, as your machine is the topic at hand.

Hopefully some Canadian espresso machine owners will chime in with recommendations for you on where look for the machines you're interested in.

Cheers,
    Ron
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