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Former Costa Express MD Scott Martin to advise Crown Digital on scaling ELLA

Martin will advise Singaporean tech start-up Crown Digital as it seeks to scale its robot barista concept in new domestic and international markets

ELLA can prepare up to 200 customised beverages every hour | Photo credit: Crown Digital


Scott Martin, former Managing Director of Costa Express, has joined Singaporean technology start-up Crown Digital as an advisor to help scale its autonomous robotic barista, ELLA. 

Crown Digital CEO Keith Tan said Martin will help “expand the reach of ELLA and revolutionise the way people experience coffee.” 

“Scott's expertise and guidance will be invaluable as we navigate the challenges and opportunities of scaling up our operations into new markets,” Tan added. 

Martin co-founded self-serve coffee machine manufacturer Coffee Nation in 1998. By 2011 Coffee Nation operated 900 self-serve machines across the UK — 45% of the total market. The business was acquired by UK-based coffee chain Costa Coffee for £59.5m ($77.3m) in March 2011 and rebranded as Costa Express. 

Martin led the development of Costa Express from 2011 until January 2019, when Costa Coffee was acquired by US beverage giant Coca-Cola for £3.9bn ($5.4bn). Costa Express, which had more than 9,000 machines at the time of the acquisition, has since grown to over 12,800 coffee machines in the UK and more than 1,600 globally. 

Martin also served as Managing Director of CostaX from June 2017 to January 2023, where he led the acquisition of US automated coffee kiosk concept, Briggo.   

“I am delighted to be helping Keith and the Crown Digital team to scale ELLA internationally. The next wave of coffee will no longer just serve outstanding coffee, but will intelligently craft and personalise it,” Martin said. 

Crown Digital launched ELLA in October 2020 as a commercial standalone model next to its bricks-and-mortar smart IoT café Crown Coffee.   

Utilising Eversys Cameo super automatic machines, artificial intelligence learning and an app-based user interface, ELLA can prepare up to 200 customised beverages every hour.  

The automated robotic barista concept currently has several units in operation in Singapore and Japan, including within corporate offices and Tokyo and Yokohama train stations.  

In June 2022, Tan said Crown Digital would begin mass manufacturing ELLA amid plans to expand its presence in train stations, hospitals, airports and offices. Crown Digital has ambitious plans to scale the robot barista concept to locations across Asia, Europe, the GCC and Australia. 

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