Book Review: “Before The Coffee Gets Cold” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Cover of "Before The Coffee Gets Cold" by Toshikazu Kawaguchi.
Cover of “Before The Coffee Gets Cold” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “Before The Coffee Gets Cold” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi! I heard a lot of good things about this book, so I figured that I might as well see if it lived up to the hype. Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:

“In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .

Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?”

Plot Development: 4 out of 5 stars

The way the book is structured is similar to “Restaurant To Another World.” Every ‘chapter’ is its own short story set in the same setting of a specific cafe. This cafe has a specific seat where whoever sits in it can go back in time and speak with someone from the past. However, their actions in the past will not affect the future, and the visitor must finish their fresh cup of coffee before it gets cold to return to the present day, or else they’re lost in time forever and/or die.

Story-wise, all of the individual stories were very touching to read. I actually cried when reading the “Husband & Wife” and “The Sisters” chapters. They’re both tragic and bittersweet, even though the characters involved going back in time end up getting some closure by the end of their respective stories.

Character Development: 4 out of 5 stars

Overall, I thought the cast was pretty good. A lot of them had some easy-to-understand issues that could relate to a lot of readers. They include trying to get relationship closure, dealing with loved ones getting sick (in this case, Alzheimer’s), and even dealing with the death of said loved ones (in “The Sisters”).

It was hard to relate to the main character in the last story, where she traveled to the future and met their future child. It was also kind-of strange to me how the child kind-of figured out the main character was her mom, given that both would never actually meet in the future (the main heroine in this story would die in childbirth, as discussed between characters). Other than that, however, I enjoyed all of them overall.

Overall, I’m rating this book out 4 out of 5 stars!

If you’re looking for a touching read, this book might be for you!


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