I spent much of my childhood growing up in Bellingham, Washington. While this might not be a city you’re familiar with it’s one that I know very well.
Tucked away in the north-west corner of Washington State, this coastal town is one of my favourite places to visit for a number of reasons. The mountains, the ocean, and yes, oh yes, the coffee.
A coffee roaster that came across my radar a number of months ago is none other than Mirror Coffee Roasters. I quickly began to see their coffee popping up on a number of the coffee accounts I follow, and then I soon stumbled upon their podcast and from that point on I was hooked. It was clear that what Mark & Sergei Kutrovski were doing was making waves in the specialty coffee community. And after some DM’s back and forth getting to know these two brothers a bit more, I just knew I had to share their story here on the blog.
And so I am pumped to be able to share their story as the Coffee Roaster of the Month for June!
Q: So, who is the team behind Mirror Coffee Roasters?
The team behind Mirror is just us two brothers, Sergei and Mark Kutrovski. We were born and raised about a 25min drive from Bellingham and then later moved into Bellingham.
I started working in specialty coffee at a local roasting company here in Bellingham. It was about a year and a half when I went to work for another local coffee company as a barista. I took on several roles there starting as a barista and growing into a social media manager, roaster, and green coffee buyer.
Some of my biggest influences would probably be Shae who was my boss at my first coffee job, Sergei, and my friend Jason Stevenson.
Sergei started his coffee career at a small family owned coffeehouse in Jacksonville, FL. Before pulling a single shot of espresso, he was hired to manage a team of barista. From the very beginning Sergei took interest in roasting and went from sitting-in on roast sessions and just observing, to receiving his Roasting Intermediate certification through the SCA Coffee Skills program.
Sergei has worked for 4 coffee companies, participated in many competitions, and cares too much about creating the perfect coffee water. His inspirations are Jason Kelloway (founder & owner of Social Grounds Coffee Co.), Taylor Leary (coffee farmer in Indonesia), Alex Sciarrotta (USBC competitor & barista at Narrative Coffee), and the coffee guru himself— Mark Kutrovski.
Q: So tell our readers a little bit more about the history of Mirror Coffee Roasters. How did this all begin?
Mirror has always been a conversation between Sergei and I. It was always in the form of dreaming of starting something that was coffee related, but we didn’t think it would be a roasting company. Not long after Sergei moved back to Bellingham from Florida, the coffee shop I was working behind the bar for, roasting, and green coffee buying, went out of business. At that point I wanted to keep working in coffee, but I also realized that with Sergei finally back, this may be the best opportunity to taking the risk of pursuing this dream we’ve talked about.
As we approached Fall of 2019, we applied for our business license under Mirror Coffee Roasters. We sold our first bags of coffee the week of Christmas of 2019. With Sergei’s experience roasting on some machines and my experience working on a couple different machines, we decided to go with a Diedrich IR-12.
Our philosophy has always been to reflect the hard work of the farmer and producer in our roasting. Coffee can only be as good as the potential the farmer, producer, and the many people who were involved at origin put into it. The roasting process should reveal that potential. Whenever we’re dialling in a roast profile and tasting the roasts, we’re always asking our selves if there could be more in this coffee and what we can do to bring that out.
Q: In your opinion, what’s the specialty coffee community like in Bellingham? What do you love?
The specialty coffee community in Bellingham has been growing a lot over the last 5 years. We’re seeing more specialty cafes open up and more people getting plugged into the industry with more job opportunities. We’ve had some very fun latte art throw downs that brought people in from Vancouver, BC and Seattle, WA which are both rich in coffee culture. To see Bellingham host something like that was very exciting.
There’s still plenty of room to grow, but like I mentioned earlier, just 5 years ago, I would be dreaming of a time like right now. It’s a small community but that also helps bring us closer together. We’re like family here in this town with our passion for coffee being the uniting factor.
Q: So speaking of coffee, what are you drinking/enjoying right now?
We’ve really been enjoying our small lot, Indonesia, Sulawesi from the village of Desa Tolajuk. It’s a coffee we sourced directly from the producer that has a beautiful and unique flavor profile. Otherwise, we’ve been enjoying coffees from Bold Bean down in Florida, Woods Coffee in Bellingham, Proud Mary is always a treat from Portland, and Camber from Bellingham as well.
Q: Looking forward beyond COVID-19 what do you see as some of the emerging trends or new initiatives that will shape the future of specialty coffee?
I think the coffee industry had an eye opening experience through COVID-19. Some of the good that we noticed was that people came together to buy coffee directly for their home which kept a lot of roasting companies a live. It became evident that people are willing to support their favourite coffee companies and roasters realized the potential there as something they could grow into. Going straight to people’s homes became so much more important than relying on cafe wholesale accounts. We also noticed a huge shift towards innovation and people dared to do things that were once frowned upon before COVID-19. I think some of those things will stay and has pushed many to realize that to be sustainable we must innovate and keep innovating even if it’s not in the same, traditional specialty coffee package we’re used to.
That being said, we also just how fragile the industry was. The flaws of the coffee industry and what it means to run a cafe or coffee company was challenged in so many ways. We hope that the industry starts heading to-wards a much more sustainable future not just at origin but here in the states. In all reality, for cafes and coffee companies to continue to exist, many things need to change and we hope that moving forward from COVID-19 will encourage those changes.
Q: Is there anything that you would love to see change as it pertains to specialty coffee?
Hmm… Nothing that stands out to me, but we do love to see specialty coffee grow in accessibility and approachability. That is amazing and we hope to see that continue to grow.
Q: Tell the readers of Commonly Coffee about some of your recent accomplishments. Or any upcoming announcements?
One of our biggest accomplishments we often fail to see is that we actually don’t know what its like to do business outside of a worldwide pandemic. We started just months before worldwide shutdowns, but since starting we have been at a slow but steady growth all the way through.
The biggest accomplishment though was our newest coffee, the Indonesia, Sulawesi. We have been at work in Indonesia for longer than Mirror has existed, and that continues to be a huge focus of ours. We want to connect with farmers and producers and build relationships with them on a deeper level beyond just a monetary transaction. This year we were able to get connected with a producer, pay him directly, and also realize that the producer paid the highest price in the region for those coffee cherries from the farmers. That was a huge breakthrough for us to be serving such a great coffee from Indonesia which is unlike anything we’ve tasted from the country, and we strongly believe this is just the beginning.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Thank you so much for your time and also the investment you’re making into the specialty coffee industry. The specialty coffee professionals are doing it for people to enjoy this delicious beverage, and we appreciate the support and enthusiasm in return. It’s contagious and inspires us to keep doing what we’re doing!
Find their beans: If you’re looking to get your hands on some beans then definitely check out their web-store for what they’re currently roasting!
To show our appreciation to the readers of Commonly Coffee we are thrilled to offer a PROMO CODE. So visit our website and use COMMONLY15 to save 15% off on your next purchase!
One of the things I love about Mirror is their YouTube Channel. I do my best to view each new video that they drop because their content is just so good. If you’re looking for some new coffee-content definitely smash that subscribe button and enjoy what they create.
If you want to learn more about the history of Mirror then this is a great video to watch:
I just want to say a huge thank you to Mark & Sergei for sharing about Mirror Coffee Roasters and for being such a huge contributor to the coffee culture in Bellingham, WA. Keep up the great work!