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Kahwa Coffee brews a $6.5 million capital raise

Margie Manning



Raphael and Sarah Perrier, co-owners, Kahwa Coffee Roasting, presenting at 1 Million Cups Wednesday morning.

Kahwa Coffee Roasting Co. is launching a $6.5 million capital raise to fuel the company’s expansion throughout Florida.

It’s the first time the 12-year-old St. Petersburg coffee retailer and wholesaler has sought outside investment for the company, although there have been a couple of individual investors who put money into single stores, said Raphael Perrier, who co-owns Kahwa with his wife, Sarah Perrier.

The new capital will be used to add stores — both company-owned and potential franchise operations — as well as increase production and boost marketing, Perrier told St. Pete Catalyst.

“The idea is to get to the next level and take over Florida with coffee,” Sarah Perrier said.

They hope to raise the money locally from Tampa Bay investors who know the brand and the people behind it, Raphael Perrier said.

The Perriers founded Kahwa in 2006, initially as a wholesaler. They opened the first retail coffee shop in 2008. Since then, they’ve grown to 13 company-owned stores and have about 600 wholesale customers, the couple said during a presentation Wednesday morning at 1 Million Cups St. Petersburg.

In July, Kahwa struck a deal with Publix Super Markets to serve Kahwa beverages at in-store bakery-cafes.  They are currently in nine Publix stores and that number is expected to grow to as many as 130 Publix locations across the southeast by the end of the year.

“The last piece of the puzzle for us was Publix,” Raphael Perrier said. “Getting that will help on the exposure side, not just revenue.”

The Perriers want to grow the number of Kahwa retail locations to 20 to 30 corporate stores. They  also are exploring franchising, and are focusing on finding the right franchise group, not individuals.

Next month, Kahwa will move into a larger production facility, just down the street from their current production site at 3244 44th Ave. N. in St. Petersburg. One of the things they’ll be able to do at the new location is produce cold brew and nitro coffee in cans that potentially could be distributed in retail stores, including Publix.

“We’ll be releasing hopefully in the next couple of months. We’re testing it now,” Sarah Perrier said. “Our cold brew is one of our biggest sellers, and getting that perfected into a can where we can keep the same flavor, it’s taken a while to get to a product we’re really happy with.”

Kahwa also expects to continue to hire more employees, including production and possibly management staff, she said.

“We have a small office now, and we’ve hired people. They are working in the conference room now. They don’t even have an office, so it’s getting a little crowded,” Sarah Perrier said.

Among the new hires is Molly Latimer, marketing and event coordinator for Kahwa. The company needed a full-time event coordinator as it increased community outreach.

“Part of the way we promote our company and also give back to the community is through events,” Sarah Perrier said. “We have a vintage truck with an espresso bar inside and we bring that to different events, nonprofit events … That’s how we like to give back to the community, to support the people who support us and the organization and to get the word out about our coffee.”

Kahwa has partnered with 1 Million Cups, an initiative to connect and support entrepreneurs and the local community, since the St. Petersburg program began five years ago.

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