Why Costa Tequila is a sweeter, softer, more floral tasting craft spirit experience
Stephen Gavula III had a vision. When he was developing the unique blend that Costa Tequila uses in its brand, he worked intentionally to bring the best of the two flavor profiles that define the drink: Los Altos (the Highlands) and Valle de Tequila (the Lowlands).
Tequila connoisseurs know that the Highlands usually offer qualities that include sweet, fruit and subtle characteristics, while the Lowlands bring in tastes of pepper, spicy and earthiness. Costa Tequila features the perfect Hi/Lo blend—the first blend 100% Blue Weber Agave from the two distinctive locations.
With Costa Tequila, Gavula wanted to appeal to a more inclusive group of people—those who were bent on sharing their memories and experiences, and creating life journeys.
Costa Tequila offers two varieties, Blanco and Reposado. As connoisseur reviews attest: The signature Hi/Lo tequilas take turns playing feature and supporting roles on the palate: an engaging floral and fruity, but not overly sweet, initial taste and smell (Hi), that transitions to a silky texture and subtle peppery finish (Lo).
CBAM sat down with Gavula to see how the brand is gearing up for the road ahead.
Give us a snapshot of today’s craft spirit market from your perspective. What’s likely to happen next?
The craft spirits market has and will continue to see a resurgence, led by a focus on consumer education of certain spirits and the experimentation and development of smaller yet captivating segments.
Traditional spirits like tequila, gin and rum are being celebrated and distillers are using modern techniques to redefine what these classic spirits can be. Smaller segments like mezcal should continue to grow with this emphasis on consumer education and experimentation.
What trends are defining the space?
Premiumization is a trending buzz word, but it has become less about price and more about quality and brand values. Craft distillers are educating and adding value to consumers not only on their spirits and distilling processes, but also on their brand identity.
This consumer education aspect of branding is an integral piece of today’s market. We believe a captivating and true brand story provides a relatability for consumers that drives long term brand loyalty and a deeper understanding of what makes craft distilling unique.
What’s your story from a brand perspective? Walk us through your branding strategy.
Costa Tequila has created the first Hi/Lo blend of Tequila. We have intentionally brought together taste profiles of the agave plant from two traditionally separate tequila regions in Jalisco, Mexico: “Los Altos” (the Highlands) and “Valle de Tequila” (the Lowlands).
Our tequila has an initial sweet, softer and more floral taste associated with Highlands tequila, followed by a silky smooth and peppery finish consistent with the agave grown in the Lowlands. Our branding strategy is focused on educating tequila lovers on the benefits of this unique blend of traditional flavor profiles.
We believe in experimentation and progression of tradition with purpose. Our non-traditional approach to tequila translates to our brand strategy and embodies who we are and what we value: being true, embracing adventure, growing as a family and elevating the importance of a balanced blend.
What’s the biggest issue today related to the marketing/sales side of the business today?
The spirits marketplace is booming. The demand for this segment has attracted money and personalities from across the world. The influx of commercially manufactured brands have saturated the market and driven out some quality products. It is a shame. Our idea has always been to focus on educating our consumer and creating an awareness about the history of tequila and its cultural relevance. I think we need a better understanding of what we are consuming.
What’s the secret to creating a branding story that consumers can buy into?
You have to live it. There is no shortcut to developing or manufacturing a brand. The adage “do what you love” makes sense not only from a product perspective, but from a brand story as well. The brand has to be what you breathe each and every day.
What’s the one thing that every craft brand should be doing in the way of marketing?
Every brand should spend time putting together a brand ethos, including brand pillars, values and a brand story. This brand architecture is the foundation for a successful brand and should be the guiding light in decision making in almost every aspect of the business.
I recommend new companies find a partner with proven experience in branding. We worked with the beverage industry pros at Turn It Up Media to help bring our story to life.
What do you see as some of your biggest opportunities moving ahead?
I feel as though we have entered a new era for Costa Tequila this year. We launched in 2019 just before the pandemic and we are now in 2022 able to stand on our own as a company.
Opportunities are coming more frequently, and we are attracting more attention and engagement from wholesalers, chain retailers and customers. Expansion in all these segments is the greatest opportunity. Additionally, with the current state of our economy (read: troubled), we believe our brand story along with our price point will lead to much consumer interest and our ability to gain market share.
What’s the biggest item on your to-do list right now?
There are three really important items on the list: expand distribution, raise consumer awareness about tequila and continue to support our outstanding team of wholesalers, retailers, and operations, marketing and sales personnel as they work to increase the market share of Costa and tequila as a whole.
How does your taproom space integrate into your branding/marketing strategies?
In 2023, we will begin to use our distillery in Mexico as a gathering place for our partners, friends and customers. It has just undergone a large renovation and we are excited to open it up to those that love Costa Tequila.
With everything going on today, what are some of the adjustments you made with/to your business model?
I launched Costa Tequila in September 2019, just before the pandemic. By March 2020, our business plan and strategy was thrown out and rewritten. It was a very challenging time to start a business but we have persevered by focusing on our home market first and slowly entering additional core markets.
We knew if we couldn’t make it at home there was no way we were going to be able to expand. The attention we gave to our community on the Treasure Coast of Florida, and their support of our mission, kept us in business.
Costa Tequila Founder Stephen Gavula III on…
The most rewarding part of the job
Founding Costa Tequila has given me the opportunity to explore my passion. It’s rewarding to do something I love and to work with an incredible network of talented people.
The best advice you ever received
“Stay the course and ignore the noise.” In an industry this competitive, it couldn’t be more true. It’s easy to get distracted by other brands or other opportunities. It’s also very easy to get discouraged by the people who tell you that you won’t succeed. I’ve had my fair share of those, so take it from me: Stay the course and let those comments be fuel for your fire.
The best thing a customer ever said to you
“I get the feeling my grandchildren will be drinking this one day. This product will stand the test of time. Well done.”
His favorite brand story
Yeti. It has built a brand around a true and authentic story, and that will hold value over time.