Categories: Bridge

Three firsts for Kahwa Coffee as it opens its latest location

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.


Margie Manning

Margie started her journalism career as a radio news reporter in St. Louis, before putting down her microphone and picking up a pen to work at the St. Louis Business Journal. Unable to resist the call of warm weather and beaches, Margie took an entrepreneurial detour to run an ice cream shop in Treasure Island with her husband. Before joining the Catalyst, Margie spent 14 years at the Tampa Bay Business Journal where she wrote about business successes, failures and the exciting world of innovation and start-ups. Her writing coaches are Bonnie the Dog and Coffee the Cat, joined recently by a new edition, Jack the Cat. Margie can be contacted at

View Comments

  • My name is Todd Richardson and I am the Pinellas Development Director for Equality Florida. The first time I met with the Perrier's to ask them if they would support the work of Equality Florida, the both enthusiastically said, "Yes" with big smiles on their faces. A few years ago we wanted to give our sober guests another option for coffee/espresso, and the Kahwa team showed up with their beverage bus, and it was a huge hit with our guests. Mayor Jane Castor is doing a phenomenal job as Mayor, and my family and friends enjoy coffee at Kahwa all the time. I believe the Perrier's are non-party affiliated. What I do know is they are wonderful people who have a huge circle of LGBTQ friends. Mike Peterson, I believe your attacks on the Mayor and the Perrier's are unfair and bias.

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