Solivagant Bloom Founder, Israel Cortez, attending CoffeeFest Orlando 2023

Q & A with Solivagant Bloom Founder, Israel Cortez

Q: Have you always been into coffee?

A: I believe I fell in love with Coffee the way a lot of people do, but don't want to admit it. I walked into a Starbucks.

I was just mesmerized by the ambience they had when I walked in, the energy; how everybody was busy on their laptops or meetings, or just hanging out with friends and family.

I honestly liked the idea of just sitting in a coffee shop all morning. Instead, I had to go to work in a career I wasn’t fond of. At that time, I didn’t think of coffee as something other than a tool to help get me through the day.

 Q: What made you think, “I really wish I would have started my coffee endeavor sooner.”

A: Years went by, and eventually, in 2019, I really got into specialty coffee. A friend of mine was working at the Starbucks I would frequently visit. They had a lot of sales going on, and I thought it would be great if I actually brew my own coffee at home. She set aside a French press for me, the most intuitive brewing method I believed to be out there, and hooked me up with a couple of bags of their coffee. 

I certainly didn’t know the proper ratios, so my first couple of batches tasted horrible; in fact, I remember one in particular quite vividly. This inspired me to watch videos on how to properly brew. I started following Creators that primarily centered on coffee. One in particular, April Coffee Roasters out of Copenhagen. That was actually the first specialty coffee company I ordered from. Of course, it took a while to get to me, seeing as how they were in another country, but it gave me the opportunity to start searching for products closer to me. I found a couple of great spots!

Shout out to Black Gold Coffee Roasters, Mercer Coffee and Roastery, and Los Dos. I even met a friend online; Tyler from Storyline Coffee Roasters. All great establishments and awesome people that share the same love for coffee. 

Q: What actually inspired me to go down the path of becoming a roaster?

I actually helped out Gary from Black Gold Coffee Roasters with packaging and kind of shadowing the roast process. I thought to myself, this is the lifestyle I wanna live.


Q: How do you get out of the electrical field to start Solivagant Bloom? 

A: Yet, even more years went by, still in the same electrical field. It wasn’t until one day when I was talking to my fiancé over the phone from a hotel room in Lexington, Kentucky.  I had a bunch of points built up on Amazon, and was discussing with her a book all about roasting coffee. I believe it was next-day shipping, so I got it mailed to the hotel room. Once I received the book, I did not want to put it down. I read two or three chapters every night to understand the theory, concepts and profiles of many different varieties. During that time, I was signed up on a subscription with Storyline Coffee Roaster; he actually had educational videos for his subscribers, which helped me out tremendously. During that time of traveling all over the states, drawing out electrical diagrams for hospitals, I was mostly by myself. I found things to discover that would help fill the time and help me grow. When not working, I trained in Jiujitsu while I was in these other states. I was also looking for local coffee shops around me, because I craved exploring the variety of flavors and aesthetics that each coffee shop owner put into their business.

Q: When did it change? 

A: The year, 2022 when everything changed. 

A really bad hurricane came through my home. At the time, I was in Louisiana working at a hospital. My daughters and fiancé were in that storm. I lost contact with them, and it scared me. During that time I was contemplating, “Is a traveling job really still what’s best for me?”

Ultimately, I chose to leave. Great people that I worked with understood why. I went back home and found a job in the trade. After a couple of months, I discovered that I was done with the electrical field completely after doing it for 10 years.

At the same time, an opportunity came up, something I did not see myself ever doing…but possibly the best thing that’s ever happened in my career. I became a bartender at our local Traditional Irish Pub, The Celtic Ray. The Ray is a hub in Downtown Punta Gorda, and I knew a lot of friends there. This new job gave me more time with everyone. I wasn’t gone three weeks out of the month and only home a week at a time. It gave me an opportunity to also pick up my roasting books again. I was inspired after rereading it, so I decided to purchase a FreshRoast SR 800 just to get some hands-on experience of my own. I played around with it for a year understanding how it works, and started bringing samples up to The Pub. Everybody loved it! I talked to the owners of The Pub and said, “Hey, what do you think about serving the coffee I’ve been roasting here?” 

We had an agreement. The Ray's Owners, Kevin and Max Doyle, really went out of their way to provide me with a platform to develop my craft and share it with customers. I'll never be able to repay their graciousness and support so early on in my journey.

At this point, I was really starting to find my groove. I took a leap and got ahold of a 2kg Mill City Roaster, one of the most respected craft roaster manufacturers in the world. After a couple of months of working with its nuances and deep-diving into every function and capability, I had the opportunity to bring it to The Celtic Ray. they now serve my coffees exclusively.

Also during that time, I had already come up with the company name and started the LLC,

Solivigant Bloom Coffee Roasters.

Q: So, where does the name come from, and how did you settle on it? 

Definition of 'solivagant'

  • A lone wanderer.

Remember how I said I traveled by myself? And how I searched around for local coffee roasters.

Whenever you submerge the coffee in a pour over if it’s freshly roasted, it will bloom like a flower. 

I was a Solivagant seeking the Bloom. 😎 

Q: So, does that search find meaning in the coffee?

Exactly. The way I see it, we are all lost wanders looking for something. Purpose, connection, a plan…some way to find yourself.

Coffee, even in that Starbucks I walked into, brings people together. We travel through our lives alone in many ways, but the journeys come together like a web, parts of a whole. This can be traced to the coffee itself; our beans start as cherries on small farms before they are brought to the processing facility to come together with the beans from partnered co-op farms. They are batched together and delivered as nothing but potential, the result of millions of years of evolution and soil development.

The Arabica bean itself is rooted in Ethiopia, but is now the most widely used coffee bean in the world. Connection.

Our motto is, “Alone in our journey, together in our love of great coffee.”

I think it perfectly sums up what we are about.

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