Ella The Robot Barista Debuts On Singapore’s Train Station Network — In The CBD, and in a Big Way.


SINGAPORE, 2 March 2022 — In a time when workforce woes and socially distanced interactions are the ball and chain weighing down on the service industry, and consumers are more connected than ever through their smartphones, Bytes Station is the latest tech-enabled food & beverage concept in the CBD that—with just a few taps on the mobile phone—offers gourmet coffee by way of a robot barista, and a grab-and-go sandwich and smoothie selection to help you power through the day. All delivered through a contactless and frictionless end-to-end retail experience developed and operated by Crown Digital, a Singapore-based full-stack start-up pioneering smart retail solutions, in a joined bid to reinvent the commuter coffee experience with Stellar Lifestyle, the commercial arm of SMRT Corporation Limited.


An extension of Crown Digital’s fully autonomous, AI-powered robot barista technology, ELLA, Bytes Station incorporates a digitalised grab-and-go sandwich and smoothie kiosk with healthy, gourmet and protein-packed options—poised to cater to the health and fitness enthusiasts, as well as busy executives in the vicinity.


Located at the underground retail space of Raffles Place MRT Station, Bytes Station is the first robot barista lifestyle experience to be mapped out across Singapore’s network of train stations, as part of a strategic deal between Stellar Lifestyle and Crown Digital—wherein the former invested in the start-up’s pre-Series A fundraising round in August 2021—to deploy ELLA, Singapore’s first robot barista, into some 30 SMRT-operated train stations across Singapore by end 2022.


The debut deployment tracks a promising trajectory for Crown Digital, having in December 2021 kickstarted its partnership with East Japan Railway Company (JR East), Japan’s largest passenger train line operator, by deploying the first two ELLA robots in the railway company’s Tokyo and Yokohama stations.


“ELLA’s affinity with train stations in Japan—and now Singapore—is no coincidence; it demonstrates her ability to bring high-quality coffee into high-density areas through a grab-and-go experience that is contactless, consistent and convenient,” shared Keith Tan, CEO of Crown Digital. “Being a Singapore start-up, we’re committed to making full use of every opportunity presented in this partnership with Stellar Lifestyle to bring a new wave of smart grab and- go concepts centred around ELLA's technology that can cater to the different lifestyle needs of the 1.4 million daily commuters, right here in Singapore. In that sense, Bytes Station is just the first blueprint that will set the framework for the transformation to come.”


A Convenient Byte For The Working & The Working-Out Crowd

Above (L - R): Pesto Chick Ciabatta; Roasted Ribeye Sandwich with SportyFood Bauletto; Avo - Caprese Croissant


Located in a basement unit formerly occupied by Starbucks, the 36-square-metre outlet may be compact with a dine-in capacity of 10, but a sophisticated suite of intelligent hardware and Internet-of-Things (IoT)-connected software work hand in hand to facilitate a robust grab-and-go service that can cater for volumes beyond. A modest dining area is flanked by ELLA the robot barista on the left, and a grab-and-go sandwich and smoothie kiosk on the right, complete with a self-ordering terminal and digital lockers for self-collection.


In addition to ELLA’s repertoire of barista-quality coffee made using premium, ground-to-order Buscaglione Coffee beans and freshly frothed milk—including iced and flavoured syrup options, as well as a new plant-based milk option of Oatly Latte made using Oatly oat milk—Bytes Station also offers a more extensive menu comprising healthy gourmet sandwiches, pastries, smoothies, and juices—amped with protein-loaded options made using products from nutrition partners SportyFood and Myprotein.


SportyFood is the first line of protein-rich, low-carbohydrate, ready-to-eat sports foods globally, featuring traditionally high-carbohydrate comfort foods fortified with premium protein isolates and enriched with nutrients that support energy, power and muscle tone. Myprotein is Europe’s leading sports nutrition brand delivering a range of quality products including protein powder, vitamins and minerals, high-protein foods, snack alternatives, and performance clothing. Bytes Station marks the first time both brands are collaborating with an F&B partner in Singapore to create protein-rich menu options around their products.


Intended as a one-bite-feeds-all for the CBD crowd and health-conscious, choose from a range of Ciabatta, Sourdough and Croissant based sandwiches in meaty and vegetarian-friendly stacks. Highlights include Crown Coffee’s signature Pesto Chick Ciabatta (S$10.90) featuring herbed chicken thigh, homemade pesto, mozzarella and a juicy crunch of fresh lettuce and tomatoes wedged between a sun-dried ciabatta bun; Roasted Ribeye Sourdough (S$12.90) that comes layered with roasted ribeye slices, arugula, mozzarella, homemade pesto and mustard for a 3 satiating deli-inspired lunch; and Avo-Caprese Croissant (S$10.90) for refreshing bursts of roasted cherry tomatoes between slices of fresh avocado and buffalo mozzarella, finished with a balsamic vinegar lift on a buttery croissant.


Those preferring a less messy option can opt for freshly pressed wraps from the Hot Pockets section (all at S$9.90). Chicken Mango and Brie packs in an oozy duo of brie and mozzarella cheese, complete with mango salsa for a tropical kick and lashings of barbecue sauce. Power Pocket is the perfect breakfast-to-go with classic morning fixings of chicken sausage, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, caramelised onions, fresh lettuce and tomatoes folded in a tortilla wrap. All sandwich and Hot Pocket options also come with the option to add hard-boiled eggs (S$1), smoked salmon (S$3.90) or sous vide chicken breast (S$3.90) for a protein-packed meal.


Continuing its scheme of healthy quick fixes are a selection of smoothies and fresh fruit juices. Sweetened with gula melaka for its micronutrients and blitzed with flax seeds for added fibre, diners or passers-by can beat the heat with the Summer Acai Coconut (S$7.90) that blends acai, mango, coconut water and flakes; or treat themselves to a glass of Milk N Cookies (S$5.90) for a moderately indulgent sip of chocolate biscuits and milk. Daily dose of vitamins come in fresh fruit juices (all at $4.90) such as the immunity-boosting 24 Crown Carats with carrots, apples and oranges; and the anti-inflammatory punch of pineapple, ginger and apple with the Pineapple Sunrise.


Offered as an option for fitness enthusiasts coming from the gyms, customers can choose to upgrade their sandwiches or croissants to be made using SportfyFood’s Bauletto or Croissant that are low in carbohydrates and enriched with proteins. Customers can also give their smoothies a boost by adding Myprotein Impact Whey protein powder to any of their preferred smoothies, or pace their office hour hunger pangs with a selection of protein-rich snacks such as SportyFood’s muffins and protein crisps and break bars from Myprotein displayed on the counter.


Take A Byte Of The Future


Above: All of Bytes Station’s customer-facing functions are done via the ELLA app or self-ordering terminals; simply scan your QR code to collect your orders from ELLA’s pigeonhole or the digital lockers.


Busy commuters on the go can place their coffee, sandwich or smoothie orders and make payment directly from their ELLA mobile app or at the self-ordering terminal, with the perk of enjoying a 10 per cent discount by paying with credits stored in their digital ELLA wallet. Once ready, they will be notified via the mobile app and can scan their assigned QR code to collect their coffee and food orders from ELLA’s pigeonhole and digital locker respectively.


Known for its six-axis robotic arm that can produce up to 200 cups of quality gourmet coffee an hour, the latest version of ELLA incorporates Corning Gorilla Glass technology alongside an AI-powered vision system with live video analytics monitoring that keeps an eye on operations round-the-clock to spot abnormalities such as spillage and foreign objects, while deep learning and predictive analytics keeps the supply chain running for its replenishment needs.


ELLA’s patented proprietary IoT-connected software—fully-contained with its own mobile app, payment gateway and e-wallet—will be used to operate all of Bytes Station’s customer-facing functions. Not only does this allow Bytes Station to run on a lean staffing strength needed for food preparation and service—at a time when Singapore’s F&B industry is experiencing a 20 to 30 per cent manpower gap—it also grants customers the ease and mobility to place orders and make payments directly on their phones, while allowing them to make informed decisions with nutritional data of each menu item clearly displayed on the mobile app. The app also offers members access to third-party offers with like-minded lifestyle partners from neighbouring gyms to sports nutrition brands, as well as place orders

from other ELLAs stationed across Singapore.


While many emerging technologies today can support various aspects of the greater retail and F&B sector, a contactless and frictionless end-to-end retail experience that employs robotics, artificial intelligence and IoT solutions to rethink and enhance traditional service functions is what puts Bytes Station on the industries’ cutting edge.


“We’re confident that the wide-reaching effects of the upcoming deployments across Singapore’s train network will not just enhance traditional commuter retail experiences, but lay the foundation and roadmap for embracing smart retail solutions that can be witnessed by the larger F&B and retail sector,” added Tan.

Bytes Station at Raffles Place MRT Station is now open to the public from Monday, 28 February 2022, every Monday to Friday from 7.00am to 8.00pm. New ELLA app users enjoy 50% off their first Bytes Station order. For more information, please visit https://www.bytesstation.com.


Fast Facts

Address: 5 Raffles Place, #B1-55/56, Raffles Place MRT, Singapore 048618

Email: ella@crowndigital.io

Website: https://www.bytesstation.com

Menu: https://www.bytesstation.com/corporate-menu

Social media: @bytes.station on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok

Delivery: Delivery available via Deliveroo

Promotion: 50% off first Bytes Station order for new ELLA app users

Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 7.00am – 8.00pm (Closed on weekends)

Management: Crown Digital


ABOUT CROWN DIGITAL

Full-stack start-up Crown Digital began with the goal of delivering a contactless coffee experience gourmet experience to the world’s growing community of grab-and-go commuters. Its creation, ELLA, the one of world’s first successful robot barista, humanised technology and demonstrated the potential of robotics and AI to re-invent the commuter lifestyle experience and re-energize urban retail. As ELLA deploys across major Asian transit hubs and retail locations, Crown Digital brings its expertise and insights to find new ways to create social value through robotics. The company strives to re-imagine and re-invent consumer-facing robotics to become the leading inventor, operator, and distributor of future-ready solutions.


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