Hero: Urbana Coffee
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Hero: Urbana Coffee

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains of 2007––the people, places, and things that we’ve either fallen head over heels in love with or developed uncontrollable rage towards over the past twelve months. Get your dose, starting Boxing Day and running into the new year, three times a day––sunrise, noon, and sunset.
This past June, Urbana Coffee (1033 Bay Street) quietly opened at Bay and St. Joseph, diagonal from Film Fest haunt Bistro 990. Six months later, it already has a loyal following. Café owners take note: this is how you do business.
First up, there’s free wireless internet at Urbana—a rarity in the city. To complement the wireless net, Urbana has plenty of available electrical outlets throughout the café for your laptop or smartphone. (Obvious, right? Not so much. Ahem, Aroma, we’re looking at you.) Next, the staff at Urbana is friendly and unpretentious. They patiently explain drinks to you and even say goodbye to you as you leave. We’re so over snooty baristas who think they’re snooty bartenders, especially since we can’t stand snooty bartenders. As well, the store is environmentally friendly, using biodegradable cold cups made from corn and making an effort to use mugs in-store to save on disposable cups. We bought our reusable cloth sleeve at Urbana and can’t live without it. In addition, the coffee is fair trade, including some organic blends, and prices are still comparable to the corporate chains. Finally, the reloadable card at Urbana is the smartest system we’ve seen yet. Unlike other cards that promise convenience as the only benefit, Urbana makes it worth your while: you’re treated to a free drink for every $20 reload, and using the card scores a 10% discount off everything.
It’s amazing how much thought has gone into the customer experience and we hope Urbana forces its competition to step up. If you’re not near the Bay Street location, there are plans to expand to five stores in 2008, including a location at Yonge and Davenport. For more information, call Urbana at 416-960-1033 (a website should be up by early 2008). Free wireless, friendly service, and fair trade coffee. Yup, Urbana is f’in good.
Photo by Jaime Woo