Before the Coffee Gets Cold

A Novel

272 pages

English language

Published Jan. 7, 2021

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4 stars (14 reviews)

In a small back alley of Tokyo, there is a café that has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. Local legend says that this shop offers something else besides coffee—the chance to travel back in time.

Over the course of one summer, four customers visit the café in the hopes of making that journey. But time travel isn’t so simple, and there are rules that must be followed. Most important, the trip can last only as long as it takes for the coffee to get cold.

Heartwarming, wistful, mysterious and delightfully quirky, Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s internationally bestselling novel explores the age-old question: What would you change if you could travel back in time?

6 editions

Charming and sweet, if a little on the nose at times.

4 stars

The premise, there's a seat in a coffee shop that allows you to travel to any other moment in time. The constraints - you can't leave the seat, and you only have as long as a cup of coffee stays warm.

The rules of the café are a bit silly, and repeated a few too many times, but the characters and the themes of the book are warm as a good cup of coffee, charming as a small out of the way café, and mostly very sweet in a way that coffee isn't. A time travel story that makes the simple point that what we really want when we fantasize about doing it is not a change to change the world, but to speak with someone.

Worth the short read.

A quirky premise failed by such stilted writing.

2 stars

A cafe that serves strong enough coffee to transport one through time.

A quirky premise failed by such stilted writing. Kill your darlings the adage goes, but by that metric this is post-genocidal, hack-like storycraft.

Due to the international attention this book has attracted, I found myself wondering if it was a translation issue. Lo and behold - it was adapted into a novel from a theatrescript, where a significant amount of necessary emotion and artistry is delegated to the acting cast.

My fundamental problem with this book is that in converting "BTCGC" into a novel (for more $$$), not enough of that emotion and artistry has been added into the text. Characters' emotions race from zero to 100 in the space of a paragraph. Descriptions of setting and character appear to have been adapted directly from the writer's notes.

And yet, underneath it all is a charming and easy-to-read …

Review of 'Before the Coffee Gets Cold' on 'Storygraph'

4 stars

A quirky, bittersweet time travel story. I felt like this novel spelled things out too much. It could have been so magical if the author had trusted his readers! But the premise was cool and I loved the characters. 

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