One of the great Italian espresso machine names has made its move to reclaim top-line status by unveiling new technology to compete with the new wave of hi-tech espresso brands.
The Brasilia brand is now sporting new Sublima technology which will feature the extremely high-precision degree of control that has come to be expected in the espresso sector.
Brasilia is now distributed here by Caffe Society, of Leeds, an equipment specialist that sells about 900 espresso machines a year. It is also a big coffee supplier to the catering trade - last year it got through 60 tonnes, in 34 styles and roasts.
"Our Brasilia stock is cherry-picked for the UK market," observes the company's Steve Mooring. "We go from single-group machines that need no plumbing, to big four-group ones.
"We do this because we know that smaller venues can't face buying a £7,000 machine, so a very big market exists around the £3,000 mark, and we fight very strongly in that sector - we compete with the Spanish machines on price and beat them on quality!
"We also now have top-of-the-scale ones which I think make up the best range in the world. With the Sublima advanced espresso system you really can see a difference - more steam, better extraction."
For some time now, many other Italian machine-makers have been making a big thing of their high-precision modern brewing technology, and this year Brasilia moved right in among them with Sublima.
Brasilia recently sent its key international man Gianni Bianchi to the UK to explain it.
"The goal is to reach the maximum extraction possible," he said. "Everybody says that the best extraction comes from a lever machine and a good operator, so we first studied the operation of the lever machine, to understand it.
"We found that the lever machine reached a 14-bar pressure and that optimum extraction was achieved by the manual action of the operator, which is really two actions… so, we asked, could we reproduce this by electronic solenoid valves? Could we open one, and then, after three, four or ten seconds, open the second?
"Some other machines work by stopping the pump and re-starting it. We did not want to do this - we wanted to reduce the flow and then increase the flow.
"Our electronics now give the operator very close control of the temperature and the length of the infusion. You do not find anything like this from anyone else - we have done things that our competitors have not."
The result, says Brasilia, is that it has boosted the quality of the brewed shot without over-extraction.
Elsewhere in the Sublima system are independent adjustment of group head temperatures, and Brasilia also has a new three-position steam control.
This, says Gianni Bianchi, assists in controlling the steaming pressure for a large or small size of drink. From the ‘off' position, the lever moves forward once to half-steam (0.7 bar), and then fully forward to full pressure (1.5 bar).
Is Brasilia still a ‘great' brand?
"It's fair to say that five or ten years ago, this was the biggest brand of all, for a spell," says Steve Mooring. "Yes, it has dropped back, but now not many are selling more numbers than Brasilia. For sure, this is Brasilia moving to re-assert itself!"
By Ian Boughton