My wife is interested in a flat bar road bike and I've checked out the usual suspects, Giant, Trek, Spec, C'Dale. They all make very nice flat bar road bikes in women's specific sizes. The problem is the cost. To get anything with decent (better than Sora) components you start getting into a lot of $$$. To put it into my perspective, I ride a Kuota Kredo with all Chorus components and had a really hard time adjusting to Ultegra, which felt crappy by comparison when I swapped bikes with someone for a spin.
My next step was to try eBay & Craigslist. Neither have yielded anything that was worth the trouble. Then I looked at BikesDirect as a last option and saw this Cafe Sprint. It looks like a good component group, although it makes use of a lot of mtb components rather than road type components. It is a hybrid though, so that shouldn't matter. Are those frames any good? I'll have to say that the joints don't look all that great, especially compared to the brand names. For the amount of use it'll probably get I don't think it needs to be perfect.
I do my own work, so getting it setup and tweaked won't be a problem for me, so that issue is moot. The price is lower than the cheapest from the brand names. The weight is listed at 21.5 pounds, and that seems light and I wouldn't be surprised if it really was more.