There’s light at the end of the tunnel for Black Forge Coffee House in McKees Rocks.
The long-awaited business is set to open July 15 in a former bank at 701 Chartiers Avenue.
“I’m super-pumped for the public to see this place. I want people to feel the love that’s been put into it,” says owner Ashley Corts, who also runs the original location, a 1,600-square-foot rental space in Pittsburgh’s Allentown neighborhood.
Housed in a 6,000-square-foot, century-old building, Black Forge II is part-café, part-performance venue — where the coffee’s strong and the music’s loud.
Awhile back, after numerous noise complaints from Allentown residents, Corts began searching for another site to host bands. The 29-year-old has called Allentown home for a decade and wanted to be a good neighbor.
She closed on the second location in August 2018 and began gutting it. Years of water damage, a few untrustworthy contractors and a falling out with her business partner made the process even more difficult than she thought it would be.
Luckily, a Kickstarter campaign raised $36,000 in a month to help her and a small army of volunteers make the repairs.
The new facility boasts black walls and floors, while cathedral ceilings, large windows and a skylight keep the place bright. There’s a stage with professional lighting and a sound system, second-floor office space and parking lot in the back.
Each Sunday, Corts and her crew will roast a variety of organic and free trade coffee beans on a machine in the corner of the café. Within the last month, Black Forge opened its first wholesale account; its coffee is now available at Market Street Grocery Downtown.
In addition to drip coffee and Gryphon’s Tea, patrons can order seasonal and specialty beverages for $6.66, including the Hell Hound, a mix of espresso, dark chocolate, chili, cocoa powder and cream that’s shaken over ice.
The drinks are made on a Modbar espresso system that moves all of the equipment under the service counter, giving customers a clear view of their hard-working barista.
Within the next year, Corts plans to transform the spacious basement into an art gallery and retail shop and open the kitchen to create on-site eats. For now, customers can purchase pastries made by 350° Bakery and sandwiches from Black Market Deli.
A poem that inspired the business is written on the stairs leading up to Corts’ office. After a year of running on fumes, frustration and caffeine, she’s excited to open the doors to Black Forge and let the light in.