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Illustration by Cole Sandhofer

By Cailean Mcleod

First thing to note upon walking into the former Bellingham National Bank are the large, white stone pillars, and to their left are the old bank vaults, wide open and completely gutted. Soon these vaults will hold people sitting and drinking coffee instead of handling money.

Blue Koi Coffee is currently under construction on 101 E. Holly St. in downtown Bellingham at the site of the former bank. Jamie Huff, founder and owner of Blue Koi, said her business will offer more than just espresso machine-made coffee.

“It’s a little bit different than a regular coffee shop,” Huff said. “We are also going to be focusing on slow-brew methods.”

 Huff said these methods include cold brew, pour over, aeropress, moka pot, chemex, french press, siphon and Turkish-brewed coffee.

“One of our favorite things to do is take one coffee roast and brew it in the different methods to show you how different the flavors are,” Huff said.

Huff said when the idea of Blue Koi first started, she originally wanted it to be a roastery. However, when she rented the Holly Street property, she decided that she could make it into something more.

An inside view of the future cafe area of Blue Koi Coffee, formerly the old Belligham International Bank, on Feb. 8, Bellingham, Wash. // Photo by Cailean Mcleod

Blue Koi will inhabit two adjacent building spaces on 101 E. Holly St. and 1306 Cornwall St., Huff said.

Huff said they hope to finish construction and open by March.

The Holly Street property will house the cafe seating area and the other space will be used as what Huff refers to as a coffee lab. This area is where Blue Koi will test and sell new flavors of coffee and use the different brewing methods, Blue Koi brewer Amy Eardley said.

Eardley said while they’ll order their coffee beans from all around the world, they plan to get dairy ingredients and pastry products locally. (blue koi int 11:00)  Eardley said their chef, Melanie Young, has a very good palette for pastries.

While they don’t have a set menu planned yet, Huff said the menu will include coffee, tea and pastries.

“When we say that we want to have fun and be testing, that is literally what we will be doing,” Huff said. “If there’s things that our customers would like to see, we will experiment with it.”

Eardley said often when people drink coffee, they don’t care about how it got into their cup. Blue Koi will let people to see what goes into their cups by showcasing pictures of all their suppliers in their store, she said.

“People just want the cup in front of them, they don’t care about how it got there, but there is a story there,” Everley said.

Eardley said the many processes to brewing coffee are very interesting but often overlooked.

“What they have to do to beer is so similar to coffee and tea,” Eardley said. “The process that this poor little bean has to go through to get to your cup is amazing.”

Huff said the building, built in 1916, was designed by the late Stanly Piper, a Pacific Northwest architect credited with designing many buildings in the area. The style of architecture that the Holly Street building has is called Beaux-Arts style, Huff said.

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