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St. Pete’s Kahwa Coffee and Baseball Hall of Famer David Ortiz team up for children

Mark Parker

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Raphael Perrier (left), enjoys some laughs with Baseball Hall of Famer David Ortiz over a cup of the recently launched Big Papi blend. Photos provided.

Kahwa Coffee continues to hit home runs for charity, this time through a serendipitous Hall of Fame partnership that provides emergency cardiac care for kids.

Launched in 2006 by husband and wife duo Raphael and Sarah Perrier, Kahwa has become an all-star in the world of coffee. The St. Pete-based company is now the largest independent coffee roaster in Florida, with 15 retail locations (and counting). In addition to a large online presence, area hotels, restaurants and 80 Publix grocers now offer Kahwa products.

Following a new partnership with retired Boston Red Sox slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz, Kahwa is likely to increase its fan base throughout New England while raising money for children who cannot afford critical cardiac care.

“It’s always been the number one priority of the company,” said Raphael Perrier. “Since we started the company, it’s always been a focus on everything we could do to give back.”

Ortiz, affectionately known globally as Big Papi due to his large frame and larger personality, was the only player selected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022 on Jan. 24. Known for his prowess at the plate – especially in the postseason – the Dominican-born Ortiz is the only “true designated hitter to get into the Hall on his first try,” according to mlb.com.

Ortiz cemented his legacy in Red Sox and baseball history for his integral role in Boston breaking the “Curse of the Bambino” in 2004 and leading the Sox to two more titles in 2007 and 2013. Big Papi’s inspirational speech and play immediately following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, along with his charitable contributions off the field, have cemented his place in the hearts of baseball fans that might root against the Red Sox – Perrier included.

“That’s what we love about him – there’s nothing fake with him,” said Perrier. “It’s cool to have people like that, that care about the community and care about people, and having very good guys behind you.”

All profits from Kahwa’s recently launched Big Papi blend go directly towards the David Ortiz Children’s Fund. The fund supports children throughout the Dominican Republic and New England in dire need of cardiac care and life-saving surgeries. Ortiz espoused the true meaning of Kahwa’s Big Papi blend in a promotional video shot on location in St. Pete.

“Hey, people out there,” said the affable slugger. “Remember, every time you buy a bag of Kahwa Coffee, you save a life. So let’s go!”

Kahwa’s partnership with Ortiz was born from another relationship with a major leaguer – former Tampa Bay Rays fan-favorite Evan Longoria.

Perrier said about six years ago, Kahwa partnered with Longoria on another charitable blend. One of the women involved with Ortiz’s foundation is also a friend of Longoria’s, and the foundation asked Kahwa to take part in a large, annual fundraising golf tournament held in Naples.

During a tournament, Ortiz approached Perrier about creating his own coffee with a taste of the Dominican. The idea for a Big Papi blend was hatched, with all proceeds going to his children’s fund.

“We loved the idea, loved the whole thing,” said Perrier. “We designed the blend, designed the bag – it was fun.”

Perrier said Ortiz was a pleasure to work with, noting his funny and straightforward demeanor. He said the Hall of Famer exudes a passion for his foundation, along with his love for coffee.

Perrier explained the Dominican Republic does not export much coffee, and Kahwa put a lot of work into recreating the country’s coffee profile. Perrier said the blend is a little on the nutty side with a hint of chocolate, and everyone is happy with the result.

While the Big Papi blend made its public debut at November’s 13th Annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic in Naples, which raised over $1.3 million for kids, Perrier said it is just now fully launching. Kahwa is also working on partnerships in the Boston area.

Ortiz, affectionately known globally as Big Papi due to his large frame and larger personality, was the only player selected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022 on Jan. 24.

Hall of Fame voting results were released less than three weeks ago, and the 2022 Induction Ceremony in July. The timing is not lost on Perrier.

“Now it’s kind of us having a Hall of Fame coffee,” said Perrier with a laugh. “It’s pretty cool.”

Perrier said Kahwa is reaching out to the operator of Fenway Park in Boston to feature the coffee at the historic stadium. There are also ongoing talks with retailers inside Boston’s Logan Airport.

Perrier said having someone like Big Papi associated with your brand “can’t hurt,” and gaining national exposure while giving back to the community is always a good thing. He said Ortiz is respected not only as a baseball player and now first-ballot Hall of Famer but also as a genuinely great person.

“Having someone like that promote your brand because you give back is great exposure anywhere,” said Perrier. “Not just in Boston, but all over the U.S.”

Some fervent Tampa Bay Rays fans have asked why a St. Pete-based company partnered with a division rival’s icon. Perrier explained that when the Rays traded Longoria to the San Francisco Giants, Kahwa continued to sell his No. 3 blend in the name of charity.

Perrier also teased good news for Rays fans and local charities.

While the ongoing MLB labor dispute prevents him from saying much regarding the Rays’ active players, Perrier said Kahwa is launching something “pretty cool next month.” He called that project something different, fun and exciting for the entire Tampa Bay area. It will also focus on fundraising for area nonprofits.

“It’s a part of what we do,” said Perrier. “I think if everybody was doing, you know, a little part of giving back, the world would be better.

“Sometimes you cannot do as much as others, but whatever you can is key in our society.”

To learn more about Kahwa Coffee or purchase the Big Papi blend, visit the website here.

All profits from Kahwa’s recently launched Big Papi blend go directly towards the David Ortiz Children’s Fund.

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