Moving Upward: Kahwa Coffee Roasting Company
As our Moving Upward video series continues, we enjoy opportunities to work with and learn the story behind Tampa Bay businesses that continuously strive to make our home a better place to live and work. In our fifth project, we’re excited to share the story behind Kahwa Coffee Roasting Company!
Kahwa Coffee, a wholesale and retail coffee distributor, has been creating unique coffee blends and providing fresh, quality coffee to Tampa Bay locals since 2006. As the coffee culture continues to grow, Tampa Bay has been fortunate to be the home base for a very special local coffee business that values quality in every sense of the word. From the quality of the product to the quality of the training, Kahwa Coffee strives for perfection every time. Plus, in typical Tampa Bay fashion, Kahwa is an active in the community and consistently gives back whenever possible.
Kahwa’s creators and owners, Raphael and Sarah Perrier, has one primary goal: to bring their customers a consistent product that will delight any palate from amateur to connoisseur. The husband and wife opened their first pair of café doors in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida in 2008. To maintain quality control over each blend, the Kahwa team does all of their coffee bean roasting at their production site here in Tampa Bay. With over 15 years of experience in the coffee industry, Kahwa combines passion and expertise in their processes.
Since then, they have opened up 11 locations and obtained more than 650 wholesale customers.
How It All Started
One could say the story behind Kahwa Coffee is not just about a coffee shop or coffee, but a love story. 20 years ago, Raphael was a coffee enthusiast working as a barista. One day, Sarah, fresh out of college, was introduced to Raphael and began sitting at his coffee shop trying every kind of coffee Raphael placed in front of her. A love soon steeped between Raphael and Sarah, extracted from a mutual passion for coffee.
In the beginning, Kahwa started as a wholesale provider only, two years later Raphael and Sarah were opening up their first coffee shop in 2008.
When asked ‘Why Tampa Bay?’ both Sarah and Raphael agreed that it was really about the people. As the couple visited and vacationed in the Tampa Bay area, they quickly realized that the community’s support of local businesses made for an ideal starting point. Raphael says they moved here from an area where no one really smiled, and visiting Tampa Bay was always “an absolute pleasure” as everyone smiled.
“There is a sense of community and happiness that’s just fun for families to live in,” he said. “It’s very genuine.”
The coffee couple also agreed that the overall adventurous spirit of the people was motivating. The people of Tampa Bay are susceptive to trying new things and embrace local small business growth.
“We could see the energy of Tampa Bay changing, and it felt good to be a part of that so we decided to make this our home base,” Sarah said.
What Makes Kahwa Unique
Kahwa does not produce single-origin coffee flavors, they create unique blends of coffee from different regions of the world, including Central America, South America, India, and Indonesia. From selecting high quality coffee beans, and in house controlled roasting methods perfected after almost two decades of experience, Kahwa exercises complete quality control.
At Kahwa, they take quality control tastings every chance they can. A consistent roast and blend is one thing, but following formulas is what is really important. Sarah and Raphael visit their roastery every day to make sure the quality is done the way it needs to be done.
“Quality is very important to us. In the beginning, I was doing most of the roasting myself so it was a lot easier to make sure the quality was there and I was packaging the coffee, but as you grow it’s important to implement guidelines and make sure people are trained the right way,” Sarah said.
To guarantee Kahwa quality coffee in every cup, Sarah knew they needed to ensure proper training for future baristas. To accomplish this, Sarah and Raphael sat down with their Kahwa teams and collaborated to create a Kahwa official training manual. They extensively train their baristas to create consistent delicious drinks and serve each customer’s specific needs.
Exceptional employees are considered the cornerstone of Kahwa Coffee.
“If you don’t have the right people, then you won’t be successful,” Raphael says.
Their philosophy is to promote from within, from the bottom to the top. At Kahwa, employees are trained considerably and treated properly. They believe in the brand itself.
“If you know the brand very well, you can go very high,” Raphael said. “Having people who are dedicated to the brand and to the company is a huge asset for us.”
According to Sarah, Kahwa employees are significant because they are the company, along with Kahwa products.
“We really give them the opportunity to grow within the company, while we also allow them to express themselves,” Sarah said. Kahwa baristas are not required to wear a uniform, their most important job is to ensure each coffee they serve is the best coffee their customers have ever had.
Originally Kahwa was just a single warehouse used for roasting. Raphael and Sarah were going door to door, meeting with local restaurants and businesses, trying to sell their product, though they quickly felt this method didn’t really give them that connection to the community they were looking for.
They then spent some time reaching out to local events, fundraisers, and other community projects asking to participate and donate their product. Their goals were simple: get to know the community and get their name out there. Talk about an investment that paid off!
To Raphael and Sarah, giving back to the community is common sense and a normal thing to do. The community is what has made Kahwa what it is today, and they take every opportunity to give back.
“Part of our everyday life is giving back, to us it just makes sense. You meet so many people and get to hear about their causes and we look to give back or help in any way,” Sarah said.
They donate their time and products to countless events and organizations in the Tampa Bay area. From sponsoring local events to donating products to non-profit organizations, to sponsoring local schools and sports teams, Kahwa does whatever they can.
“Why do we give back? I think it’s a normal thing to do. If you don’t do that you shouldn’t be in business. We believe a lot in karma, if you do good things then good things will happen to you. It may not be right away but it’s the only way your business will grow,” Raphael said.
Raphael genuinely enjoys hearing people say ‘my Kahwa’ in regards to a specific Kahwa location. He emphasizes the importance of interacting with patrons, he knows that they will give the best, most authentic feedback. Plus, this is just another way for the Kahwa team to stay updated with the people and news of the Tampa Bay community.
Giving back is just their way of saying, ‘Thank you’ to everyone who has made and continues to make Kahwa what it is today.
We encourage everyone to enjoy their coffee at discerning establishments in the Tampa Bay area, all over Florida, and nationwide. We at Farmore Marketing are honored to have had the opportunity to work with such an inspirational company and hear their story.