Book Review: Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

This book was such an enjoyable and thought-provoking read! As soon as I picked it up, I was drawn into the charming little coffee shop in Tokyo where the story takes place.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

TitleBefore the Coffee Gets Cold
AuthorToshikazu Kawaguchi
GenreFantasy, Fiction
Publication DateDecember 6, 2015
Length272 pages

Where to Purchase

The Plot

The basic premise of the book revolves around a cozy café called Funiculi Funicula. This café has a magical rule: if a customer sits in the seat reserved for time travelers, they can travel back to the past. But there’s a catch – they must return to the present before the coffee they ordered gets cold.

The book contains four interconnected stories about customers who travel to the past for a chance to reconnect with lost loved ones, fix past regrets, or meet younger versions of themselves. I don’t want to give too much away, but each story packs an emotional punch as the characters grapple with questions of fate, grief, regret, and second chances.

Kawaguchi does a wonderful job of bringing the café and its patrons to life. From the chatty café owner, to the shy young barista, to the lonely widow hoping to see her husband one last time – every character feels real and relatable. As a reader, I was fully invested in each of their unique journeys.

My Thoughts on the Book

I found this book to be a quick, endearing read with unexpected depth. On the surface, it’s a charming, almost whimsical story. But underneath, it explores many complex themes like love, loss, nostalgia, and the difficult choices we face in life.

The stories made me reflect on my own regrets and how I would handle a chance to change the past. Would I try to remake major life decisions? Or just cherish a last conversation with a departed loved one? It was thought-provoking to imagine having that opportunity.

Of course, the magical realism aspect of time travel invites some suspension of disbelief. As a reader, you just have to accept the premise and go along for the ride. But the stories are so touching that I had no problem accepting the café’s time travel rules.

Kawaguchi’s writing is wonderfully atmospheric. He brings the cozy café setting to life so vividly that I could practically smell the coffee and hear the soft jazz music in the background. The stories unfolded with a dreamlike quality that was very immersive.

I also appreciated the rich Japanese details woven throughout, from the food references to the small cultural touches. It added layers of interest for me as a reader. I especially loved the importance placed on taking time to appreciate the small joys of life – like a perfectly brewed cup of coffee shared with a friend.

Final Verdict

In the end, I found Before the Coffee Gets Cold to be a thoroughly enjoyable read that exceeded my expectations. It was an emotional, thought-provoking book that gave me a lot to reflect on. I think the stories will continue to resonate with me for quite some time.

Kawaguchi crafted a moving, beautifully written tale that packs a surprising amount of depth into a mere 155 pages. His deft blend of whimsy, magical realism, and philosophical themes came together into a captivating book that I couldn’t put down. I’d recommend this novel to anyone looking for a poignant, imaginative read that will warm your heart.

For me, Before the Coffee Gets Cold was a perfectly brewed cup of literary comfort – one I will certainly be recommending to friends. It’s a book I won’t soon forget.


  • Paula Davis

    Paula Davis is a dedicated and seasoned content writer for Dreaming and Reading, where she brings her extensive knowledge and passion for literature to a wide audience of fellow book enthusiasts. With the heart of a true bookworm, Paula has immersed herself in the literary world, devouring approximately 50 books annually for the last 15 years. This impressive reading habit has not only provided her with immense joy but has also significantly honed her expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in the realm of book reviews. Her insightful and well-crafted reviews reflect her deep understanding and appreciation of various genres, offering valuable guidance to readers in search of their next great read. With a finger always on the pulse of the latest literary releases, Paula Davis is a trusted voice and a go-to source for book recommendations and reviews.

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