Black Forge Coffee owner reviews marijuana on the road as The Traveling Bud | Marijuana Issue | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Black Forge Coffee owner reviews marijuana on the road as The Traveling Bud

Photo: Nick Prezioso, courtesy of Ashley Bianca Corts
Ashley Bianca Corts
Ashley Bianca Corts is best known for Black Forge Coffee, her metal-themed coffee shops located in Allentown and McKees Rocks, but now she is expanding her expertise to weed.

In January 2021, her business went mobile when she kicked off a nationwide Save Our Stages tour, focused on raising money for music venues struggling due to the pandemic. While on the road, she found another calling: reviewing different kinds of marijuana products and dispensaries as The Traveling Bud.

Back in Pittsburgh, Corts put that expertise into her business, releasing a Black Forge “Wake & Bake” box a few weeks ahead of 420. Each box contains cannabis-themed products including a custom coffee, tea, and various handcrafted, locally made marijuana paraphernalia. The shop is also selling a limited-edition Wake & Bake T-shirt, featuring a colorful stoner illustration by Pittsburgh artist Peter J. Larkin III, with “Sip It & Rip It” written on the back.

Since starting The Traveling Bud accounts in March, she has reviewed 10 stops in cities where recreational marijuana is legal. Right now, reviews are available on her Instagram and TikTok account under @ladylightbearer, and she plans on releasing her full Traveling Bud website in June 2021.

Corts spoke with Pittsburgh City Paper about going from coffee to chronic.

City Paper: Why did you decide to start The Traveling Bud?
Ashley Bianca Corts: While on tour on my days off, I find that there’s nothing better than climbing a mountain, soaking in a hot spring, or hiking around in the desert enjoying a joint, and all I wanted to do is share these special experiences with people. … Marijuana smoking is rather communal. I have met my bestest of friends over a toke, and I wanted to continue that community virtually with others who may be searching for the perfect dispensary and product while they are on the road or visiting a new city. I started writing down my dispensary stops and bought myself a legit marijuana review book so I could keep track of all the things I tried. … My goal overall with The Traveling Bud is to inspire others to get out there and live their best lives.

CP: What's the most unique experience you've had so far? Is there a particular product or shop that stands out?
Corts: Experience starts with the person who helps you find what you need from the dispensary, the Bud Tender. The best Bud Tender I have ever had the honor of getting serviced by was at a wonderful dispensary called The Lighthouse in Coachella, Calif. Often I find that the general vibe is to be rushed through some of these dispensaries across the U.S. This place took their time and made sure I understood everything I was buying and answered all of my questions, even with COVID restrictions. The place was large and full of so many goodies to pick from with an inviting atmosphere. I felt really happy and excited to be there, like when I was a kid in the toy store.
Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Bianca Corts
CP: What are some of your favorite products?
Corts: The first thing I ask for from the Bud Tender is, what is the best pre-roll option and deal. ... When I am not puffing on a pre-roll, I am enjoying my Puffco Plus Portable Oil Vape and the Puffco Peak Smart Rig. I recently started exploring the world of concentrates. These items are what's up when you wanna get ripped with your favorite concentrate. My favorite product is by Harmony Extracts THCa Crystals ISO. It is a concentrate additive. I like the extra zing it adds to the ritual of smoking.

CP: What are your preferences when it comes to marijuana? Are you more drawn to Indica, sativa, or hybrids? Do you prefer to smoke or take edibles?
Corts: I like it all, honestly. I am not one to turn down any marijuana. All in all, if I had to pick, I would say I'm an Indica flower girl at heart. Indicas help me fully get in my relax zone and allow me to use my mind to be more creative. All of my best ideas are #highdeas.

CP: Based on your journey so far, do you think marijuana tourism is a viable industry? How could Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh specifically, take advantage of it if and when it legalizes marijuana for recreational use?
Corts: It is a viable industry. People will spend their money no problem on marijuana — I see this everywhere I have been. The idea of having access to a more natural drug to help the community instead of medicating people with addictive pills alone is a good reason to be legal. It provides more jobs to the community as well. For instance, Colorado used some of their tax money to provide a day center for the homeless and also funded scholarships for underprivileged students. Imagine if they used all the tax money to help the homeless, fix our streets, and better our school systems?

CP: What's the best advice you could give someone who wants to do something similar to The Traveling Bud or, at the very least, explore options in cities where recreational marijuana is legal?
Corts: First things first, always ask a local. Locals will know where the small business shops are. Often you’ll find statewide commercial chains, don’t get me wrong, I’ve stopped at those, too. I try to support locals first if I can. I find when I travel, I am often googling places to eat food on the road. Finding bud shops online is quite easy these days, as easy as finding a restaurant.

There is a wonderful app online called Leafly. This app will provide dispensaries nearby based on my location or you can search a city ahead of time. It’s a well-organized app that can provide you with information on the products and deals the shops have.

Always remember to tip your Bud Tender.

The Traveling Bud

@the_travelingbud on Instagram and @ladylightbearer on TikTok

Black Forge Coffee

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