Paul Russell, a Maryland native, is the Co-Founder of Fortitude Coffee Co. Paul grew up in Montgomery County, MD and learned at a young age how coffee can bring loved-ones together. He would help his grandmother set up the coffee for family gatherings and watch as the evenings ended on that warm cup of liquid joy. Paul’s true desire for coffee came after joining the local fire department and becoming a live-in member. After late nights of long calls out in the snow on the highway or a brutal box alarm house fire, he found that coffee was often what brought the crew together to decompress and process the shift. Paul joined the US Navy in 2010 as an Electronics Technician and served his first two tours aboard the USS Carl Vinson. He then transitioned to Naval Special Warfare and completed two combat tours to Iraq. Without the luxury of coffee machines outside the wire, Paul and his teammates would take to the hand-crank coffee grinder and the JetBoil to make pour-over coffee before missions. Along with helping keep each other focused, motivated and safe, Paul also made sure the guys were never without the means to make a delicious hot cup of coffee.
Cori Russell, Co-Founder of Fortitude Coffee Co., is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland. She was raised on the Gilmore Girl motto: I drink the coffee, and then I do the things. At the young age of 16, she told her dad “I am going to travel the world and taste coffee.” And eventually, she did just that. Often you could find Cori and Paul around the coffee pot at the fire house, warming up after a long call out on the road, or just bonding with their fellow crew mates. After being a volunteer live-in at the local fire department, Cori joined the US Army in 2011. She served as a combat flight medic with the Bavarian DUSTOFF in Katterbach, Germany and completed two combat tours to Afghanistan. While stationed overseas, Cori traveled all over, always seeking out a local coffee shop as her first stop at a new destination. During deployment, along with her mission as a medic, Cori was in charge of the daily brew of coffee. Care packages from home always included a fresh new coffee to serve up to her flight crew. Coffee has fueled her soul and provided her energy on late night study sessions, fire department calls, long MEDEVAC operations and for early morning mom revival.
Paul and Cori were just kids when they met as volunteers at their local fire department. While there was an instant connection between them, their story is not without many trials and obstacles to overcome. Some of their best memories of their time living at the fire house, are the late nights they spent brewing coffee, bonding with their crew members and painting the common rooms or assembling new furniture for the living areas.
After joining separate branches of the military, Paul was stationed in San Diego, CA and Cori overseas in Germany. Their bond kept them connected (even before the likes of Zoom and all the social media outlets) and after many years of long distance and time apart, they decided to elope before they were both off on their second deployments. Married in 2014, they spent the first 405 days (Cori definitely counted) apart; sometimes on opposite ends of the world, and sometimes they were in the same time zone with Cori in Afghanistan and Paul in the Persian Gulf.
After Cori separated from the army, she moved to San Diego to start their married couple life, as Paul transitioned to Naval Special Warfare. Physically they were finally living together again, but they both knew being in NSW meant deployments were always looming. Service and sacrifice are stitched into every fiber of their beings, and so thus opened a new chapter of Cori holding down the home front while Paul went back to war.
Their first daughter was merely 4 months old when Cori experienced her first deployment as ‘the one left behind’ and she quickly discovered that being home was sometimes mentally harder than being in a combat zone. Missing a huge chunk of your first-born’s first year is no walk in the park either, but together Cori and Paul braved the unknown and came out the other side stronger… with fortitude.
One of Cori’s favorite care package items to Paul was always specialty coffees and new brewing devices to help bring a little bit of home to him in Iraq. During his second deployment, Cori gave birth to their second daughter sadly with Paul thousands of miles away. He met his little one via the power of FaceTime, in the middle of the night, with a cup of coffee in hand.
Over the years, coffee has been a staple for these two and helped them face some tough times and bumpy roads. Their hope is you enjoy their meticulously roasted coffee they are producing, but you also stay to join their Fortitude community… their family. Help support their business and ultimately their mission to serve and give back to some amazing organizations and build a legacy for generations to come.
As the saying goes… Life happens; COFFEE helps. Let Fortitude Coffee Company help you start your day (or your late night mission) with a cup of their premium brew.