Kahwa Coffee poised to expand
Published in the St. Petersburg Tribune by Josh Boatwrght on May 4, 2013
Raphael Perrier got a taste for fine, locally roasted coffee as a teen visiting the lone café in his hometown of Chambery, France.
Cafés Folliet has since grown into a national brand in France after establishing a local reputation for quality – a path Raphael and his wife, Sarah, seem to be following with the growth of Kahwa Coffee Roasting.
The couple just moved their headquarters to a North St. Petersburg warehouse at 3244 44th Ave. N. with twice the space of their original location at Eight Avenue South.
They started roasting about 260 pounds of coffee beans a week in 2005 and opened their first café in 2008 on a mostly empty street corner on the edge of downtown at Fifth Avenue and Second Street North.
Now they roast 4,000 pounds a week, and they’re doubling their production in the coming months as they add a second coffee roaster to their new space and expanding their national distribution.
They’re also training an in-house management team to help them open 10 new cafes in the next 12 to 15 months on top of the five they already run in St. Petersburg and Tampa.
The Perriers say the foundation of their expansion plans is maintaining local credibility as the Tampa Bay area’s signature coffee company.
“As long as we’re not everywhere in Tampa Bay, then there’s no point going anywhere else,” said Raphael Perrier. “You have to have your market base, that you’re known here and you’re the best.
“Once you have that, then you can expand, and that’s the next step for us now.”
Kahwa’s success starts with the coffee beans.