This New Tequila-Based Coffee Liqueur Will Upgrade Your Espresso Martini

Coffee and tequila were meant to be together, apparently.

Costa Tequila Café

Courtesy of Costa Tequila

While the stardom of the espresso martini is seemingly everywhere, in-the-know drinkers are privy to a swap that makes the drink even better: using tequila instead of vodka. Tequila’s natural sweetness and depth of flavor pairs perfectly with rich coffee, and there’s good news for lovers of this elite cocktail variation: craft tequila brand Costa just launched a tequila-based coffee liqueur made for sipping over ice, mixing with soda water, and of course, using in espresso martinis as well.  

“This adventure started in 2016,” says Stephen Gavula III who, when on a trip to Jalisco, was inspired to leave the world of corporate finance and launch Costa Tequila. One trip down to Mexico turned into countless visits to tequila distilleries over multiple years and Costa quickly went from an involved passion project to a full-time gig. “My family had been in the food, beverage, and hospitality business for decades, so coming back to this work was kinda in my blood,” says Gavula. 

On an early trip, Gavula found a partner in Master Distiller Ingeniero Agustin Sanchez whose distillery is located in the lowlands of Jalisco. The duo sought out to make the first ‘Hi/Lo’ blend of tequila where the 100% Blue Weber agave for the tequila is harvested from both the highlands as well as the lowlands. “Most of the agave distillates out there come from either the highlands or the lowlands,” explains Gavula. Tequila derived from agave grown in the highlands, “Los Altos,” tend to be more sweet and floral whereas ones from the lowlands, the “Valle de Tequila,” might take on more peppery characteristics. Gavula looked toward the market success of blending in the making of spirits like Scotch and thought, ‘Why have just one when you can have both?’ 

Since the launch of their tequila in 2019, Costa has found success in bars and restaurants with bartenders who understand the extra-special composition of their product — nearly 70% of their business is on-premise, compared to just 30% direct to consumers at home. With such a presence in bars and restaurants, it's no surprise that Costa’s newest product combines two of the most popular trends in the drinks industry: agave spirits and coffee. 

Costa Café is a coffee liqueur made from 100% Mexican coffee which gets infused with Costa’s Hi/Lo tequila. “We’ve always pushed a more progressive look toward tequila,” says Gavula, “there are a lot of really interesting parallels between coffee and agave and in some ways this felt like a natural progression.” Despite admitting that he never considered himself a coffee connoisseur, nowadays Gavula finds himself inspecting the differences in one pallet of coffee beans from another in warehouses throughout Mexico. 

Unlike many liqueurs which idle around 25% alcohol by volume (ABV), Costa Café is 35% ABV and was designed to be the base of a cocktail, not just a mix-in. The sweet and earthy notes of Costa’s tequila ring true in the liqueur, pairing perfectly with the floral — but not cloying — coffee notes. 

“It's really fun how versatile it can be,” says chef Meredith Ouzounian, a Florida-based private chef and owner of Alice’s Pantry. Ouzounian suggests pairing Costa Café with chocolate bitters and nutty amaretto, as well as  soda water for a play on a highball. But of course, a shaken espresso martini is always a fail-proof way to go. Follow Ouzounian’s lead and make a shaken sea salt and honey espresso martini by mixing two shots of espresso with honey, milk, some sea salt, and a couple ounces of Costa Café. Rim your martini glass with a blend of salt and coffee grinds to take it over the top. 

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