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Mel Elias

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Mel Elias
Mel Elias.jpg Mel Elias.jpg
Born1970 (age 50–51)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
🏡 ResidenceLos Angeles, CA
🏳️ NationalityMalaysian
🎓 Alma materLondon School of Economics
💼 Occupation
President and CEO,
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (2008–13)
Board member,
International Coffee & Tea, LLC (2013–present)
Owner, Wava Studios
Co-Founder, Divergent IP
Founder, Bruvi
🌐 Websitebruvi.com

Mel Elias (born 1970)[1] is a Malaysian entrepreneur based in Los Angeles, California, and the former president and CEO of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Early life and education[edit]

Elias was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,[2] and raised in Singapore. After serving in the Singapore Army for two-and-a-half years,[2] he earned a law degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science.[3] He practised law in Singapore and, as director of development for the Sunvic Group, opened and operated a Tower Records franchise in Malaysia.[3][4][5]


The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf[edit]

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf was founded in 1963.[6] Elias joined the company as a marketing manager in 1997,[7] opening the first branch in Kuala Lumpur.[8] He is the brother-in-law of Victor Sassoon and Sunny Sassoon, who purchased Coffee Bean in 1998.[9] Elias moved to Los Angeles in 1999, to work out of the company's main office. During this time, the focus was to transform the company from a family-run business to a structured business enterprise,[3] he became Vice-President of Operations in 2000, was Chief Operating Officer from 2001 until 2008,[10] and became president and CEO in 2008.[9][11] [12]

From 1999 to 2013, the company grew from 34 to over 850 stores worldwide, opening both franchise and company-owned stores in the US and 28 other countries.[13][14] [15] [16] As president and CEO, Elias focused specifically on growth in Southern California, and in emerging and developed markets in Asia.[11] In 2011, the company introduced a single-serve coffee system, which uses Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf capsules and is sold in over 4,000 stores in the US and Asia.[2][17]

Elias remained CEO until stepping down at the end of 2013, moving to the company's board of directors. In 2017, Elias assumed additional advisory responsibilities and worked on the sale of the Coffee Bean to Jollibee in Sept 2019.[8]

Other ventures[edit]

Since 2008, Elias has served as a non-executive director of investment firm Miroma Ventures.[5]

In 2014, Elias acquired Los Angeles-based music recording studio Wava Studios. Wava studios rented studio space to artists and producers for recording projects and writing camps.[18]

In 2020, Elias was appointed to the MedMen Board of Directors. Here he serves as an independent board member as well as a chairman of the Audit Committee. [19] [20]

Mel Elias is also known for his history in producing music and scoring in films.[21] One of his most popular works was featured in Sundance in 2019 called 'Imaginary Order.' [22] Recently, he scored a film called 'Robert the Bruce' which is an upcoming historical drama that is directed by Richard Gray.[23][24][25] He is also acknowledged for composing and scoring the albums "Project Z" and "Piano."[26] [27]


  • Enterprise Award, Singapore Business Awards, 2012[28]
  • Finalist, Consumer Services category, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Greater Los Angeles, 2013[4][29] [30]


  1. Kedric Francis, “Mel Elias: LA’s Coffee King,” Los Angeles Confidential, November 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mark Scott, “How Mel Elias helped Coffee Bean adapt quickly to tap new customer demand,” Smart Business, August 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 “How Mel Elias has built The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to be a difference maker,” Smart Business, July 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 James Rubin, “Stories of Entrepreneurial Success Range Widely,” Forbes, 2 July 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 “Melvin Elias,” Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  6. Elaine Woo, “Herbert Hyman dies at 82; founder of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf chain,” Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2014.
  7. “Coffee Bean Looking To Hire More Than 250 Across California,” CBS Los Angeles, 17 May 2013.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Justin Yang, “Coffee Bean Names New CEO, Elias Moved to Board,” Los Angeles Business Journal, 4 December 2013.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Justin Doebele, “The Brew to Be No. 2,” Forbes, 12 May 2003.
  10. Mel Elias profile Archived 2 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Musexpo.com. Accessed 2 August 2014.
  11. 11.0 11.1 “How lower coffee bean prices will affect drinkers,” CNBC, 1 October 2013.
  12. [1] qsrmagazine.com, 4 December 2013.
  13. “Mel Elias’ Picks for dineLA’s Restaurant Week,” Discover Los Angeles, 16 January 2013.
  14. “Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf CEO on Expansion, Coffee Prices,” Fox Business, 17 January 2012.
  15. [2] adventinternational.com, 12 September 2013.
  16. [3] labusinessjournal.com, 12 September 2013.
  17. Lisa Jennings, “Q&A: Mel Elias, president and CEO, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf,” Nation's Restaurant News, 7 October 2011.
  18. “Worldwide Global News Update,” sromaginc.com, 2 March 2014.
  19. "MedMen Reports Second Quarter Fiscal 2020 Financial Results," mjobserver.com, 16 February 2020.
  20. [4] newcannabisventures.com, 26 February 2020.
  21. [5] ascap.com
  22. [6]
  23. "Mel Elias Scoring Richard Gray's 'Robert the Bruce' filmmusicreporter.com, 11 February 2019.
  24. [7]
  25. [8] theartfuse.com, 6 May 2020.
  26. Mel Elias spotify.com, 2020.
  27. Mel Elias iTunes.com, 2020.
  28. Felda Chay, “The sweet taste of success,” The Business Times, 9 April 2012.
  29. “Honoring the best of the best,” Smart Business, July 2013.
  30. [9] foodbev.com, 16 May 2013.

External links[edit]

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