Before the Coffee Gets Cold – A book review

Yet another time travel book this year. If you had a chance to travel back (or forward) in time, whom would you meet and what will you ask them? Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi runs around this theme and let us get on to my book review right away.

About Before the Coffee Gets Cold

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Book Name: Before the Coffee Gets Cold

Author: Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Genre: Fiction – Drama,

Characters: Kazu, Nagare and Kei, Fusagi and Kohtake

Setting: Tokyo, Japan

Plot Summary of Before the Coffee Gets Cold

The Funiculi Funicula is a basement cafe that has an ambient temperature whatever be the time of the day or season outside, despite no apparent air conditioning. Urban legend holds that its patrons can travel in time by following some rules and certain ritual.

But the catch is that, the trip would bear no impact to the present or future. And the opportunity to travel in time is also rare – only when a particular seat is vacant.

Four different patrons take their chances to time travel even though they know they cannot change their history. Did they make it back safely? What did they want to do so important that they risk getting stuck in a forever loop?

Read Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi to know more.

Book review of Before the Coffee Gets Cold

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi consists of four interlinked short stories of four patrons of the cafe who want to travel in time, and seek someone special.

The premise is quite interesting and simple. But it works well because of the characters, despite the straight forward plot.

I loved the three café workers and their relationships with these patrons. While they are not traveling in time, they understand why it is important for these four to do so and they almost hold their breath until they return from their trip (or not.)

The book is quintessentially Japanese, or East Asian. When I learnt that Before the Coffee Gets Cold was initially written as a play, it made more sense about why everything was overexplained and had minimal descriptions.

What worked for me

  • Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a character driven book and if you are not one for them, this book might bore you soon enough.
  • I loved Kazu, Kei and Nagare and I really hope to seeing more of them in the next part of the book.
  • The book is hopeful and bittersweet. And if you are particularly emotional type, this book might overwhelm you (in a good way).

What may have been better

  • There are times when the writing gets sloppy and repetitive. I am not sure if it is an issue with the translation or the writing itself.

Bottom line

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi might be the next bittersweet book you might be looking for. If you are looking Asian or Japanese books to read, Before the Coffee Gets Cold should be next pick.

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Let’s chat

Have you read Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi? How did it fare for you? What are your favorite Japanese literature that you read recently? Let us talk.


    • Gayathri

      Oh that sounds so exciting. I will be hopping over there right away!

  1. Terri

    You are the second person that I’ve seen recommend this book lately. I’m definitely going to add it to my TBR list!

  2. Lucy

    This sounds so interesting! I really am quite a fan of character driven books, so this might be a new addition to my tbr 🙂

  3. Pratyusha Sen

    I have this book on my TBR! Really excited to read this one.

  4. Haloreka

    Glad to reading this, because your review format was good! I’d like to read this book later, waiting for publishes in to indonesian languange. By the way, I’m from indonesia. Good to know your blog!

    • Gayathri

      Thank you. I hope you enjoy it!

  5. Bookbee

    I want to read this and format of your review is really good.

  6. Shan

    I have heard of this book but haven’t read it myself. I must admit I am now very curious and might have to check this out. I loved your review!

  7. Iza

    I read it this week and absolutely loved it – so I bought the next 🙂 I’m glad you loved it too !

  8. Elysian Bookgraphy World

    Oh.. this book is on my tbr for so long. Loved your review ❤️ Will try to grab it soon.

    • Eric Wilson Hector

      Seems interesting. And as for your question about Japanese literature I’ve only read a few short stories by Murakami so its unexplored for me.


    It’s a brilliant and honest review dear. I will pick the book soon

    • Gayathri

      Thank you!

  10. Heather @ RandomRedheadedRamblings

    I’ve got this book and the sequel on my shelf ready to be read but as usual I’ve not gotten round to reading them. I’ve heard mixed reviews but I’m looking forward to them.

    • Gayathri

      I hope you get to reading them soon.


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Gayathri has been reviewing books since 2010. When she is not reading books or creating online content, she works as a writer and a digital marketer. Head over to meet me!