ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - "Are you the boss? I'm the boss," laughed Raphael Perrier as he stood with his wife, Sarah.
She responded, "He thinks he's the boss."
"No, I don't think I'm the boss, you can be the boss," Raphael smiled.
It's easy for Sarah and Raphael Perrier to joke about who's in charge. Just eight years ago, the couple started Kahwa Coffee Roasting. Back then, they were roasting and wholesaling 260 pounds of coffee beans a week. Now, they're roasting more than 4,000 pounds per week and have opened five cafes.
"You know, you open a shop, you get new wholesale accounts. You have wholesale accounts and you open a shop, the name is there, already recognized. So they go hand-in-hand together," said Raphael.
The Kahwa name is found on dozens of bay area menus, many of them along Beach Drive in downtown St. Pete.
"People in this area have really found the importance of supporting local businesses and local products," Sarah explained.
Kahwa recently expanded its roasting operation into new space and plans on opening an additional ten cafes in the next year and a half.
So is there room for Kahwa in a landscape filled with Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts?
"Competition is always good. Everybody needs competition. I think having Starbucks allows us to stand out even more," Raphael commented.
Something that you won't find at Kahwa that you would find at national chains like Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts are uniforms. That's because they're not required.
"That's one big part of them keeping their individuality and being able to show their personality behind the bar," remarked Sarah.
For Kahwa, growing their business locally is more than success for them.
"All the money stays here in the local area so it's a good way to grow the whole state's economy," said Sarah.
Helping Florida move forward, one cup at a time.