Ashley Corts is on a mission to help save independent music venues, one cup of coffee at a time.
Owner of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based coffee roasters that doubles as an intimate music venue, Black Forge Coffee, Corts has taken to the road, bags of coffee beans in tow, to travel around the country for the next year, selling her blends of ground-up jitters to the masses. By donating 20% of the profits from her coffee sales (bags and fresh brews) to local independent music venues, a campaign she’d dubbed “Support our Stages,” Corts is hoping to help ease the burden on shuttered venues.
“The music industry made me who I am. Everything I do personally and with my business involves being an anchor for artist of all types,” Corts said. Before opening up her coffeehouse/venue, Corts was a touring lighting designer for music venues and bands.
“I just can’t stand to see people around me close down their hopes and dreams because of this [pandemic] which is out of their control. So if I can raise even a couple bucks for a venue to help their employees buy a meal or put towards a bill that’s been hanging over their heads— it’s something—and I can feel like I’ve accomplished my mission,” she said.
Shadowing the Oddities & Curiosities Expo—a traveling exhibition of vendors showcasing gothic, macabre art and other wares for the lovers of all things strange—in between stops, Black Forge Coffee will be setting-up shop at local, independently owned venues and businesses in various cities across the country, including Long Beach.
On Monday, Jan. 18, from noon to 7 p.m. Black Forge Coffee will be in-front of horror-themed pizza bar, The 4th Horseman. Profits from those sales will go toward a pooled fund that will benefit some 15 or so music venues based in Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. that Corts has partnered with.
The following day, Tuesday, Jan. 19, the pop-up will be stationed outside of Alex’s Bar from noon to 5 p.m. Twenty-percent of those profits will go directly to Alex’s Bar, which has been shuttered since mid-March.
Corts said she’s already sold 350 bags of the specialty “Support our Stages” blend, which is a medium roast blend with dark chocolate notes. From those sales, she said she’s raised $2,000, but hopes to raise more as she continues to travel around the country, with plans for another national tour in 2022. If you’re a local music venue or business interested in the partnership, you can reach out via Black Forge Coffee’s Instagram, here.