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Book review: Before the Coffee Gets Cold

  • 2 min read

What goes better with your favourite cup of coffee, than a great book? Our marketing-lady-behind-the-scenes Liz shares a quick review for a coffee-related good read: Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi:

Quote from Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi says With the coffee in front of her, she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. It was her moment of happiness


Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi became a lovely escape for me towards the end of the first national lockdown in 2020.

I'd started reading more fiction to pass the time and mostly found myself turning to the crime genre. This book is not in that genre!

A friend recommended Before The Coffee Gets Cold, and from the moment I started it, it became a little oasis of calm amongst the difficulties, stress and uncertainty which arrived with the pandemic. The novel was also a refreshing break from the 'edge of your seat' crime novels I had read one after the other before picking this up.

The book focuses on a coffee shop in Tokyo.

The cafe has brewed and served its coffee for over 100 years and its customers come and go.

But there is something very different about this little coffee shop. If they want to, and if they will agree to follow a set of very clearly defined rules, customers can choose to experience time travel. One of the rules is that customers who decide to do this must return to the present before their coffee gets cold.

Quote from Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi says We must become friends before this coffee cools


I found the book gentle and soothing.

It almost read as a series of short stories, each with its own plot connected by the overall concept. It is written in a similar style to a play and the coffee shop is the only location we ever find ourselves in, as the characters enter and exit with an audible 'clang dong' of the door. 

When a customer travels back in time, they cannot change the past, no matter what they do. And they must understand that their experience of time-travel won’t come without risk.

To me, this meant that anyone prepared to face the risks involved must have to have an important, driving need to return to the past. In that case, it is unsurprising that the 4 customers who go back in time each have a deeply sad, heart-warming and/or inspirational personal story to tell.

For anyone turned off by sentimentality, you may find too much of it in this novel.

If you are, however, looking for something with a little bit of magic; something gentle, warm and easy, this book delivers.

It also makes you think…if you could travel backwards or forwards in time and meet with one person from your lifetime, who would you want to have coffee with?




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