For the second year straight, the people of Cleveland have spoken about their favorite local tea establishment.
, located in Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
, was named the area's "Best Tea House" on the 2016 Cleveland Hot List.
This marks the second consecutive year owner Ryan Florio's café has been selected as a favorite spot to savor a cup of tea or coffee.
"It means first and foremost that customers really enjoy what we're doing," says Florio, a Parma-based entrepreneur who founded Inca Tea in 2014. "We're always trying to produce something that will impact people positively."
The Cleveland Hot List, which features more than 6,400 businesses competing for the region's love, garnered 59,000 overall votes this year. Inca Tea's standing is emblematic of a fast-growing venture carrying what its owner says is a unique product.
The startup's all-natural concoctions are made from anti-oxidant and nutrient-rich purple corn
, a recipe Florio discovered on a hiking trip in Peru. Florio's teas are GMO-free, with bio-degradable packaging.
Inca Tea also has an all-Cleveland inclination that flows well with its all-natural focus, selling products from area companies like Mitchell's Ice Cream
, Chagrin Falls Popcorn
and Anna in the Raw.
Florio, who is looking to open a production facility in Cleveland, says being a city proponent means keeping the nuts and bolts of his business local.
"I believe in the town's revitalization, and like the direction it's going in," he says. "I want to grow my business here and provide jobs. It's a changing landscape that I want to be a part of."
Inca Tea distributes its products at 500 stores nationwide, while enjoying a 67 percent revenue increase since 2015. Florio is planning a 350-square-foot full-service storefront at Hopkins's Concourse C, which would offer breakfast and lunch items sourced from local restaurants. Additional plans include franchising the café model and distributing his teas in 5,000 groceries.
For now, the busy CEO - or should we say TeaEO? - is happy to be recognized as one of Cleveland's top-tier beverage purveyors.
"We'll continue to keep a positive vibe in our products and services," says Florio. "People in Cleveland like to see other Clevelanders succeed. That gives us a buzz and the drive to go forward."