Willie shaw  kahwa  2  peektp

Sarasota Mayor Willie Shaw played the role of barista this morning, handing out free espressos, lattes, cappuccinos and drips during the morning rush hour at downtown's new Kahwa Coffee Roasting location.

The shop is the ninth Kahwa to open, and the first south of Tampa Bay. The company began as a wholesale purveyor in 2006 then opened its first shop in St. Pete in 2008. Raphael Perrier, who owns the chain with his wife, Sarah, says what separates Kahwa from other coffee companies are its unique blends—a mix of different origins and styles.

Kahwa picked its new Second Street location in part because of its proximity to downtown's forever-bustling Whole Foods and the building owner's commitment to upgrading the space. The shop should benefit from a proliferation of new nearby residential units.

The shop has been open for weeks now, but it is officially celebrating its opening by offering free coffee all day long. Shaw stood behind the counter this morning, serving caffeine-desperate locals from nearby businesses and even City Hall, located just a block away. Shaw is a coffee drinker, but prefers to keep his order simple. No latte art for him. During a break in the action, he sipped a cup of regular from one of Kahwa's crinkled orangish-yellow cups. "It's a good blend," he said.

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