BOOK REVIEW: Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Title: Before the Coffee Gets Cold
Author: Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Publication: November 17, 2020
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 227

SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

What would you change if you could go back in time? 

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?


This book was chosen for my March book club book.  I was a bit hesitant to read it and I have no idea why.  Maybe because I had to say in the pick since I missed the meeting or maybe it was because it was a book that was translated from another language.  I don’t mind reading them, it’s just that sometimes they lose something in translation.  Anyway, the book is slightly over 200 pages so I knew that it would be a quick and easy read. 

The is a coffee cafe in a small dark back alley in Tokyo.  Its ran by a man and his wife.  It is a small cafe.  Only enough for a handful of people to drink coffee.  This cafe is different.  There is an urban legend that it let its patrons go into the past and even into the future.  It’s an urban legend that is in fact true.  It’s also home to a ghost.  I loved this book so much.  I am really glad that I read it.  It was a quick read.  Only took me 2.5 days to read it.  I binged it one night, I just had to find out what else happened.  I fell in love with each of the 4 main characters as well as the random side characters that were in it. The book honestly made me cry on more than one occasion.  Especially the last one with the mother and child.  As a mother to 3 kids, I can’t imagine what she was going through at that time. 

This book is well written and kept me turning pages as I said.  I will also say that nothing really that I thought was lost in translation, if there was it was nothing major that really detracted from the story.  The way the author wrote the characters of each of them made me fall in love with them.  I cared about them, I became invested in their story.  I didn’t want them to hurt.  I cheered for them when they were able to do what they went into the past to do.  I cried for them when things didn’t turn out the way that they had planned.  I see that there is a second book attached to the book.  I will be reading it for sure.  I need to know what else happens to the characters. I especially need to figure out the whole back story about the ghost that resides in the cafe, it was never really touched upon. 


Pick up your copy of Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or check your local bookstore. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished.

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