Walking through the doors of Black Forge Coffee in McKees Rocks on a hot summer’s day, I’m blasted with that sweet, sweet central AC and the promising clamor of ice cubes from behind the counter. The perfume of coffee beans roasting perforates the placid hum of patrons tucked away at tables, typing, reading, or chatting as they sip on their cups or munch on a pastry. But there’s something even more intriguing and energetic ushering me into the shop’s calm, cool atmosphere.
Black Forge, opened in 2015 by Ashley Corts, is a metal coffee shop. A genre known for its ethos of non-conformity, metal inspires everything at Black Forge, from the décor of black paint and satanic imagery to their subversive decision to ethically source beans, practice small-batch roasting, and offer an electrifying beverage menu. And just in case your punk rock latte leaves you wanting more, there’s a stage, equipped with professional lights and sound, welcoming local and touring bands who span the many sub-genres of the shop’s muse.
As an ex-theatre kid raised on Carole King and Herbie Hancock, I can’t say that I was proficient in heavy metal as I headed in to meet with Black Forge’s lead beverage curator, Billie Steigerwald. However, Steigerwald was quick to assure me that there are no prerequisites to enjoying the Black Forge experience. She’s totally right about this. Stopping into Black Forge, surrounded by a hard-working, close-knit team of employees, you feel as if you’ve been handed the keys to the coolest club in Pittsburgh, and you’re its newest member.
Steigerwald, a Pittsburgh native with over a decade of experience in the coffee and cocktail space finds inspiration for her seasonal beverage menus from the staff’s favorite doom and glam rockers, strolls taken through the violet-studded Allegheny Cemetery, and the flavors so loved by her grandmother. Her drinks are infused with that dark glow of a good cry, screaming out the lyrics to your favorite song, and the solace of a lone walk in the woods.
In early June, Black Forge dropped Steigerwald’s much-anticipated summer 2022 menu, showcasing 7 brand new concoctions, overflowing with flavors from fruity to floral and smoky to sweet. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a regular cup of joe brewed with Black Forge’s expertly roasted beans, but while supplies last, consider letting one of Billie’s creations take you on a journey that is sure to your transform your day. Deliciousness guaranteed, headbanging option.
Here are a few of the creations you’ll find at Black Forge:
The Electric Wizard (named for the English doom band), pairing iced matcha with white chocolate, cardamom, and lime zest, before embellishing its foamy cap with a honey lightning bolt.
The Ragnarök, an iced latte spiked with chai, flavored with dark chocolate and toasted marshmallow, and finished with a cayenne sprinkle is sure to welcome you back to the land of the living.
The Tiamat’s namesake is the feminine, primordial goddess of the sea who tells the story of chaos and creation. Billie is not the only one inspired by this goddess –a Swedish goth-metal band goes by the same name. Perhaps they need to make a stop at the Black Forge stage. This drink is a surprising harmony of cold brew, cream, rose, black currant, and dark chocolate, tied together with a sea salt rim.
Black Forge Coffee and Roastery is open daily at 701 Chartiers Ave, McKees Rocks, PA 15136. You can find more about their menu, schedule of events, and hours on their website, www.blackforgecoffee.com, or on social media @blackforgeshop.
STORY BY NINA KATZ
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