Black Forge Coffee House, Allentown’s new and only coffee shop, exudes more of an edge than most bean havens might. The walls are adorned with goat-skull sculptures and snake paintings. It feels dungeon-like, but in a comforting way: Customers gently nod their heads to low-volume heavy metal, and the Oakland skyline is visible through black curtains.
Ashley Corts, who co-owns the venue with her business partner, Nick Miller, says the edgy vibe was an intentional choice. “We both have had to work for someone who wanted you to look a certain way. Now, we can combine our passions of coffee and music,” she says.
Black Forge offers typical beverages, such as cappuccinos, teas and lattes, but also others with a little bite. The Hellhound is a concoction of chocolate, espresso and a bevy of spices, topped with whipped cream and espresso beans. The cold-brew iced coffee has a smooth finish and an in-your-face name: God Damn Cold Brew.
Allentown beckoned the pair (who both live nearby) in part because the community embraced the idea of an independent coffeehouse. They received a year of rate-abatement with help from the Hilltop Alliance community organization, and many Allentowners donated to the venture’s Indiegogo campaign.
Since its Aug. 9 opening, Black Forge has served as a neighborhood gathering place. The coffeehouse hosts podcasts and other events, and local artists often meet there. “A lot of people in the community did not leave their houses, but that is changing now,” says Corts.