Since a notable if small amount of my traffic seems to come from people looking up 'Far Coast' and 'Urbana' on Google, here's an update:
Torontoist declared my local coffee spot Urbana a "Hero" of 2007, while also declaring hipster place Jet Fuel a "Villain". Jet Fuel got the kick for having no menu, surly staff who ignore new customers, and really loud annoying music. They liked Urbana for the cheerful staff, dedication to organic and fair trade coffee, the open wireless internet, and their nifty rechargeable money card that includes a 10% discount.
The comments for both stories are pretty negative about each shop - wow everyone's cranky about coffee shops. The big point against Urbana is that somebody once had to explain to the staff how to make a Chai Latte. Oh NOS! Cranky cafe snob alert!
Actually I'm going to be a little cranky too. The general experience at Urbana is great and the coffee is fine (I just drink, you know, coffee, and add my own cream and sugar) but Jet Fuel isn't the only place wiith loud annoying music. They only seem to have three CDs for the stereo: Coldplay's Parachutes, The Dixie Chicks, and the Cranberries' Greatest Hits. I don't mind Coldplay and the Dixie Chicks too much, but I find Dolores O'Riordan's singing grating and a sad reminder of how much better Sinead O'Conner is as a singer and an artist. For some reason, the afternoon shift likes to play the Cranberries very very loud - the shrill atonal yelping and loud guitars actually audible through the double front doors as you walk by. They'll turn it down if you ask, but then the next day it's loud again. So if you're reading this Urbana - can you a) turn it down! and b) get a wider variety of music or at least not play the Cranberries?
On the plus side, their rechargeable card is great - I put $40 on it and got $50 of credit, plus 10% off everything and a free drink.
In other news, Far Coast has closed its location at Bloor and St. Thomas. It seems to have fulfilled its role in raising awareness of the brand, since there are now little Far Coasts in places like the CN Tower, movie theatres, and other high traffic areas. I haven't been there in a while - must have been why they closed - but I will miss the awesome hand driers.