Who doesn’t love cupcakes, a great macaron or a freshly baked cookie? Up until now you would have been hard pressed to find all of these things in one downtown place, but not now. We sat down with Ava Misseldine who recently opened Koko Tea Salon and Bakery. You’ll be surprised to hear what this award-winning baker did in her previous life.
What should people know about Koko Tea Salon & Bakery?
We are an award-winning bakery—we have been on the Food Network and won Best Bakery in Columbus and Best Dessert in Gahanna for 3 years. We specialize in cupcakes, macarons and cakes. We do not use any fake flavors or colors. If it says "Strawberry," it is full of strawberries, not flavoring. We also offer the best gluten-free and vegan baked goods around. Our coffee is from my brother's coffee plantation in Kona, Hawaii so it is 100 percent Kona, no one else has that, and it is absolutely amazing! We also have over 20 flavors of Bubble teas and our own custom-made loose leaf teas.
Why did you want to open a location downtown?
We saw a need for amazing quality baked goods and hand crafted drinks downtown, and we wanted to fill that need! We also wanted to build a larger kitchen so we could do other specialty baked goods, like eclairs, that we don't have the room for in our Gahanna location. Space for community events was also key. We do a lot of charity events in Gahanna, however, we have limited space, but now we have a full mezzanine that seats 120 so we're looking forward to doing some large fundraising events.
What can people expect when they come to your Koko?
I created Koko so people would have a beautiful place to go to relax and decompress from a long day, to meet with friends and family and share a treat. With that in mind, we have made both locations comfortable but lovely. We do everything we can to ensure our guest is happy. Customer service really is our number one priority. And, of course, the best baked goods and drinks you've ever had. We don't sell it until we know it is the best. We do a lot of test kitchen sampling around here!
How did you get into baking, and what is your background?
I started baking with my Nana, she was absolutely amazing! She always had something delicious in the oven and she always smelled like cinnamon and vanilla :) I used to be a chemical engineer working in a research lab. Through that work, I've drawn the conclusion that stress does not cause cancer, but it makes the body more susceptible to it, and I wanted to create a place that people could come and relax and give themselves a little treat. I think we work so hard and long these days, never taking a break, that we forget to take care of ourselves. It's amazing the difference a pot of tea and a cupcake can make!
Koko Tea Salon is located in the Discovery District at the corner of Broad and Grant (in the historic Seneca Building). Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. They are closed Wednesday and Saturday.