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Plus, how Adda Coffee & Tea is going carbon neutral.
The Incline

🍝 CMU made a pasta that can help save the planet

Plus, how Adda Coffee & Tea is going carbon neutral.

Welcome to Wednesday, Pittsburgh.

In today's newsletter, we've got news on COVID-19 case numbers, changes in state capacity limits, a new outdoor venue coming this summer, a locally-invented shape-shifting pasta, and a pandemic performance from Pittsburgh Youth Chorus that will tug at your heart strings.

Plus, we're talking with Adda Coffee and Tea House's general manager, Morgan McCoy, about how the shop is going carbon neutral.

Let's go to press.

What Pittsburgh is talking about

And it was all yellow. | Tag #theinclinepgh to be featured in our Instagram of the Day. (📸: @citylifeadventures)

3 things to know today

💉 Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case average has dropped to levels that haven’t been seen since October. As of Tuesday, Pennsylvania reported 2,385 cases, with Allegheny County reporting the highest numbers in the state at 224, followed by Philadelphia and Berks. (TribLIVE)

  • Related: The FDA approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, which expands the pool of eligible vaccine recipients to about 87% of the U.S. population. Wondering when, where, and why this age group should be vaccinated? This FAQ has you covered. (90.5 WESA)

Pennsylvania officials increased capacity limits for indoor and outdoor events which will go into effect May 17. Full capacity still isn’t allowed just yet but indoor events can increase to 50% and outdoor events can increase to 75%. (TribLIVE)

📱 Pittsburgh Parking Authority is rolling out two more mobile apps to pay for parking in the city — Flowbird and Meter Feeder. The Go Mobile PGH app has been available since 2016. (TribLIVE)

3 things to make you smile

🍝 Penne, tagliatelle, farfalle, oh my! The Morphing Matter Lab at CMU found a way to imprint tiny grooves in different patterns onto flat pasta dough, which can transform into spirals, tubes, and twists when adding hot water. It’s a way to reduce the amount of packaging used for a more eco-friendly meal. Watch the pasta take shape in this video. (NEXTPittsburgh)

🎶 Music on the Mon is bringing tunes, films, and pop-up events to the SouthSide Works this summer at a green space across from the American Eagle headquarters. Local musicians will perform weekly starting July 2. (Pittsburgh City Paper)

🎤 Pittsburgh Youth Chorus celebrated a year of virtual singing with an original performance of “Under One Sky,” composed by the choir's executive director and inspired by words written by one of the choir members.The lyrics are fitting to the feelings of this year.

  • Quotable: “The earth is small, and it only has one sky. Learning how to share it has become more important than ever. One sun, one moon, one sky. We can always look up and say to ourselves, ‘I am not alone.’” (TribLIVE)

5 Questions with Morgan McCoy of Adda Coffee & Tea House

Adda's Iced matcha latte (📸: @addacoffeehouse)

For journalistic transparency, it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Adda Coffee & Tea. Whether it’s community connection, fundraising, sustainability efforts, or just downright delicious beverages, they’re making Pittsburgh a better place at their locations in Garfield (with Adda Baazar shop), Shadyside, and Northside. Plus, exciting news — a fourth location is setting up shop in the Cultural District this fall.

Today, we’re catching up with General Manager Morgan McCoy to talk about Adda’s latest effort to go carbon neutral with the help of Paris-based startup CarbonCroc. Our Q-and-A follows, edited for clarity and length.

Can you tell us more about this partnership? How is it integrated into Adda’s business?

I came across a post from Dan Hadley, cofounder of CarbonCroc, on r/startups on Reddit where he shared the mission for CarbonCroc and said that they were looking for ecommerce shops to help them expand the platform. We are always looking for ways to reinvest in causes and community, so it seemed like a great opportunity. I reached out, told them about our online store Adda Bazaar, and we hopped on a call.

We were really moved by Dan and his co-founder, Paul Bie, and their mission to get companies to own up to their impact instead of passing the cost on to customers, like when airlines prompt you to pay an extra couple bucks to offset the impact of your flight. Their tech hinges on an algorithm that helps them more accurately capture the actual impact of any given product (while similar businesses use an averaging system) so they can evaluate impact sale by sale, making it much more possible for a small company like ours to evaluate and own up to our impact. 

Their only product at the time was a Google Chrome extension that offsets the shipping of Amazon purchases. From their conversations with us and others, they decided to branch out into a Shopify app. We use Shopify for all of our sales, so it’s as simple as installing the program and letting it run in the background. Every month, we go into our dashboard to evaluate our footprint and purchase offsets that go to sustainability and carbon capture projects. Our customers can visit our public impact page to see the negative impact we have and how we’re offsetting it through these projects.

Adda Bazaar in Garfield (📸: @addacoffeehouse)

Why is this investment so important to Adda?

Adda has always been about sustainability, both in the products we use for service in our cafes and who we choose to source our products from. But there is only so much you can do to minimize your impact as a business. If there is a latte, there will be a cup that ends up in the garbage can. For coffee shops in particular, we also learned that consuming coffee from a shop is one of the least sustainable ways to get your caffeine fix

Our existence as a business is bad for the Earth, despite (we hope) being good in many other ways! But we aren’t interested in hiding all the bad we do with all the good we do, and we want to continuously challenge how we can be good stewards to our community and our industry. Carbon capture is not the solution to climate change, but it is a step. And a single coffee shop making these investments isn’t the solution, but it is a step. What’s important is that if we add all those small steps together and inspire others to walk with us, we can slowly chip away at these issues and lessen the burden: slowly, everyday, together.

Consumers can actually see Adda’s carbon footprint and work to offset it. Tell us about that and why transparency is important.

Something Adda has struggled with is publicizing efforts like this for fear of cheapening our community work by using it for marketing. It was no different with this project. Calling ourselves carbon neutral and celebrating that fact is kind of hypocritical. “Hey! Look at all this negative impact we have! But no worries, we’re paying to make it not so bad, so buy more from us!” 

Large corporations do this all the time, we call it greenwashing. We have no interest in doing that. We want to be honest and make it clear that no matter what, consumption = consequence. We also want people to know what kind of projects we’re investing in and what these offsets look like so we can back up our actions. It’s important to us that we say: here’s our consumption, here’s our impact and here’s our action. We can’t make your latte amazing for the Earth just yet, but we can take the dollar you choose to spend with us and do our best to invest it towards a better future.

Adda x Miir insulated travel mug (📸: @addacoffeehouse)

Adda’s mission is in its name - it means both conversation and a place to have community connection. Tell us how this mission helps to shape how Adda serves its community.

Adda’s name and mission was, of course, decided by our owner and founder, Sukanta Nag. He is the most humble and giving person I think I’ve ever met, he’ll probably even be annoyed that I’m sharing this! He chose this name and chose to open Adda because he’s passionate about community togetherness. If there’s a barrier to that togetherness, we try to address it. That has led us to heavily and heartily care about and invest in the social issues that burden our immediate and global communities. We don’t have all the answers but are continuously adjusting our strategy and investments so that we can create a world where everyone has a seat at the table, the privilege to enjoy a coffee with friends, and a place to have conversations with every neighbor.  

I thought it was kind of perfect that CarbonCroc, a Paris company, is working with Adda, a Pittsburgh company… like “Paris to Pittsburgh.” It’s no secret that people are watching Pittsburgh right now as an example of how an industry city can be transformed...and how much more work still needs to be done. 

How do you think more Pittsburgh businesses can start to be mindful of their environmental impact and set a good example in our city?

We thought that, too! It was funny when Dan told us he was calling from Paris and realized that synergy. Many of our fellow coffee shops and small businesses are already doing an incredible job investing in sustainability. I can’t think of one local shop that doesn’t use some kind of recyclable or compostable to-go container, which is definitely a more difficult and expensive choice than customers may think. We should continue on that path and seek out these opportunities to invest just a little more so we can make a larger impact together. The Adda team is prepared to provide all of our insight and experience to any local businesses that would like to work with CarbonCroc or learn more about offsetting, the cost, etc. Small businesses don’t have the same requirements as larger businesses, so it’s about opting for the cost of sustainability. Most of your favorite local spots are already doing that and we should continue to do so, and especially continue to share those practices with each other. We need to keep it up and keep talking about it.

For the full Q-and-A with Morgan McCoy, plus the inside info on her favorite Adda drink, follow this link.

🍪 Cookies for a cause

📸: @dfspgh

Enter now for your chance to win a ticket to The Black & Gold Cookie Table Drive-Thru at Hartwood Acres on May 16. Each vehicle will receive a premium box of 2 dozen assorted cookies from a locally woman-owned and operated small business, The little Kitchen, a Pittsburgh themed swag bag, 1 entry to the Black & Golden Mega Raffle

Ticket prize package and a picnic blanket to safely enjoy a day at the park. Bring the kids and the pets! The ticket is valid for one car and is valued at $100. Enter here for your chance to win–good luck! Photo credit: Dress For SuccessPhoto caption: These cookies aren't just sweet, they help support local women entering and returning to the workforce across Southwestern PA.

Today

🎨 Explore using art as a mental health tool with a doctor, counselor, social worker, and artists, presented by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (Online)

🙏 Take a deep breath at Yoga in the Square (Downtown)

Tomorrow

🍓 Pick up some local produce at the return of the Market Square Farmers Market, happening weekly from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Downtown)

🎨 Explore mythologies, social constructs, and personal identities through art at the debut of Change of Course, an exhibition of the residency at Brew House Association (South Side)

🖼️ Get free admission to the Carnegie Museum of Art for five hours on Thursdays throughout May (Oakland)

🌱 Get some pro tips on summer gardening at a free virtual event with Doug Oster, hosted by Farm to Table Buy Local (Online)

Friday

🎭 Watch a free livestream of a rare baroque opera, Handel's "Semele," that will transport you to another era (Online)

Saturday

🎬 Calling all actors: Pick up tips on how to give yourself every advantage as a performer with Prime Stage Theatre's master class on The Empowered Actor(Online)

📜 Learn about how family records can be resurrected from tragedy at the African American Genealogy Workshop with the Senator John Heinz History Center (Online)

💰 Rummage some treasures at the WorkshopPGH and friends garage sale (Wilkinsburg)

🌱 Shop for locally grown, produced, and created goods at the Bloomfield Saturday Market (Bloomfield)

👀 Feast with your eyes at a Murals of Oakland walking tour with Doors Open Pittsburgh (Oakland)

🛍️Support local makers at the first Lawrenceville Pop-Up Market of the season at Radiant Hall and Ice House Studios (Lawrenceville)

📖 Partner Event: May 12 - May 21

City of Asylum is hosting the first Pittsburgh International Literary Festival — LitFest ‘21 — a 10-day event centered on themes of migration, identity, and displacement with an emphasis on works in translation. The festival features a diverse array of more than 30 authors, translators, and artists from 20+ countries and in 14 different languages. It's all free and all virtual. Programs include bilingual readings, conversations about the craft of translation, and discussions of the intersection of translation and social justice topics. Learn more about their lineup of events.

One more thing …

Did today's newsletter inspire you? Enlighten you? Make you giggle? Did you learn something new? If any of these things happened, then please do your friends a favor by forwarding them this email and telling them to sign up. I’d really appreciate it. 😉

See yinz back here tomorrow.

 Francesca at The Incline

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