Kahwa is the new favorite neighborhood coffee shop, at the border of downtown St Petersburg and the Old Northeast neighborhood, and within walking distance of the Renaissance Vinoy Resort. Today was still hot in St Pete, so people were sitting inside with their coffee, reading newspapers, checking their e-mail on the free wireless, or chatting with regulars and newcomers alike. The shop was opened in March of this year by Catherine and Jean Thibault and Sarah and Raphael Perrier, so it has a distinct French flavor. Raphael and Jean are master roasters, and the two couples have had a roasting warehouse and wholesale business here in St Petersburg since 2006. Before that, they were in Philadelphia - then Raphael convinced Sarah to return home for the Renaissance of St Petersburg.
When I came in this morning Aaron and Leeanne were hard at work. I looked at the choices - Kahwa offers four blends both by the cup and by the pound, named for 4 winds of the world: Sirocco, Mistral, Boreas and Zonda. Not only does Kahwa supply local restaurants from Parkshore Grille to the Garden and from Cafe Alma to the Don ce Sar, they also supply Paul Bocuse, Michel Richard and Joel Antunes. Coffee ... Expresso ... hm, I'll take a latte this morning. Despite the ambiance, this morning mine will be To Go.
My latte came with the lid off, in case I wanted to add sugar (I didn't). How could you not smile when you see this heart in your coffee? Of course I had to take a photo of this. Aaron noticed, of course, and while I was talking with Leeanne he prepared a cup of coffee To Stay:
Yes, definitely another photo. I carefully brought it over to one of the tables so that there wouldn't be the distractions of the counter. Now everyone seemed to be taking notice of this crazy woman taking photos of coffee.
Raphael Perrier, one of the co-owners of Kahwa Coffee and a master roaster, introduced himself and started asking me questions. I told him that although his shop is just 3 blocks from my office, it was a client who brought me in. The client is renting in Parkshore Plaza, just "around the corner" and whenever I'd pick him up to show property, he'd always insist that we stop at Kahwa to get some coffee to take with us. One thing led to another, and now I come in whether it's for coffee to go or coffee to stay. Raphael told me about working in Philadelphia for La Colombe and then convincing his wife Sarah to move back to her St Petersburg home because it was an up-and-coming spot, ripe for a renaissance. So, from Leon, France, Raphael wound up in St Petersburg Florida. Though the building is contemporary and the decor is minimalist, this French cafe is warm with its Cheers-like atmosphere and it's heart is evident both in the conversation and on the coffee!
The customers next to Raphael joined in the conversation and wanted to pose - didn't I want to show happy customers? Of course! Welcoming smiles stop time, just for a moment, and we can pretend we're in Europe.
Kahwa coffee cafe is located at 475 2nd Street North in downtown St Petersburg Florida. Weekends they're open from 7:30 am to 6:30 pm and weekends from 8:30 to 5:30. To borrow from their coffee website, Tradition, Perfection, Passion: Kahwa Coffee Roasting strives to bring to your table the ultimate Coffee Experience. At Kahwa Coffee roasting, our process is simple: Green Arabica beans from different regions of the world selected for their specific inherent characteristics, hand picked when fully ripened, blended together according to strict proportions, and traditionally roasted at the right temperature so their flavors mingle in perfect harmony obtaining what, for every master roaster and customer is looking for, the perfectly balanced blend.
Even the New York Times wrote about Kahwa in their article on St. Petersburg.
So - stop in for coffee at Kahwa - and tell them Sharon Simms sent you!