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Three firsts for Kahwa Coffee as it opens its latest location

Margie Manning



Tampa Mayor Jane Castor (left) joined Sarah and Raphael Perrier, co-owners of Kahwa Coffee, and Scott McClinton, general manager of the Tampa Airport Marriott, for a grand opening at the hotel.

Kahwa Coffee hopes to make a statement with its latest location.

The new store is located in the Tampa Airport Marriott. It’s the 15th location for the St. Petersburg-based coffee chain, and the sixth location in Tampa. But it’s the first store at Tampa International Airport and the first in a Marriott hotel, said Sarah Perrier, who co-owns Kahwa with her husband, Raphael Perrier.

“It’s almost a statement for the brand to be recognized on a local and regional level by being in the airport. It’s a big airport, and it’s a great deal what we’ve done with the airport, the renovation and all that, so I think it’s a good step for us,” Raphael Perrier said at a grand opening celebration.

Being in the Marriott is also a big deal, he said. “It’s a way for us to introduce the brands together and start working together.”

Kahwa Coffee in the lobby at the Tampa Airport Marriott

The Marriott previously had another coffee brand in the site now occupied by Kahwa, but wanted to go local, said Scott McClinton, general manager of the hotel.

“We feel it’s very important to have a local vendor in our hotels. I made one phone call to Raphael. He said, I’ll be out there tomorrow and within 30 minutes he said, yeah, let’s do it,” McClinton said.

Kahwa, which was founded in 2006, is a great example of a local business, said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

“As mayor I try to recruit businesses and organizations to come to the Tampa Bay area so that we have a very diverse portfolio. But small business remains the backbone of our community. Anything I can do to help start and grow businesses in our backyard, I am more than happy to do,” Castor said.

There was another first at the grand opening at the Marriott, when Kahwa kicked off a new tradition. Instead of a ribbon cutting, the Perriers, Castor and McClinton took celebratory espresso shots from a branded Kahwa ski. (See the video below.)

Kahwa plans to open four more locations in the next four or five months, Perrier said. One will be a drive-through on 4th Street in St. Petersburg. The others are in Dunedin, Bradenton and Casey Key, near Sarasota.

The company also has an ongoing $4.4 million capital raise. Perrier said he expects to close that capital raise in the next month or so.

Kahwa Coffee espresso shot from St. Pete Catalyst on Vimeo.


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