Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Sunday, August 1, 2021


I write this as I have just finished reading the book, Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi.

I bought this book because it had two things I liked on the cover: a cafe and a cat. The premise was also intriguing, in which it is about a cafe that allows one to go back in time. I have an affinity for such storylines, because I like thinking about time a lot. 

The cafe is located in a small back alleyway in Tokyo, and every time a character enters, it would feel much like they've lost their sense of time. They say that one can go back in time when they sit on a certain seat in the cafe, although there are many rules that need to be followed for it to be a successful trip back. Most customers found the rules tedious (there's a lot for one to remember), however our four main characters either had an earnest desire to make things right, or to see a loved one once more.

Before The Coffee Gets Cold is a delightful read. Although I must reveal, that there was not a single mention of cats in the story.. but all the events did transpire within the confines of the cafe. What drew me into the book was the explanation of the rules. Not that it was elaborate, but because I initially thought that it would be simple, much like every other time travelling story out there; turns out it wasn't. 

The trip back in time can only last for as long as it takes for a cup of coffee to get cold. That's not much time, isn't it? If one goes overtime, they risk not being able to come back to the present.

Another detail in the story was that, although one can go back in time and relive the moment, anything that they do while in that short span of time will not change the present. It kind of defeats the purpose, unless the intention was really just to relive the moment and not change anything. But who would want to go back in time and not change anything? In the end though, whenever the character came back to the present, we would see a much lighter heart, a change in their perspective. These moments in the story definitely made me smile. 

“I was so absorbed in the things that I couldn’t change, I forgot the most important thing.”

― Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Before the Coffee Gets Cold

I enjoyed reading through our main characters' internal monologues, the hesitation, determination, and relief, all balled into one experience as they travelled back in time, to a scene that seemed far too familiar for them and how they chose to navigate it once more. 

This was originally a play, then adapted into a novel. I definitely think that this would be a good play; the passages could be a script, and I could easily imagine the characters on stage and acting this out. And since this was adapted into a novel, I felt there were opportunities where scenes could have been described more elaborately. The themes though, of love and loss, family and freedom, life and death were clearly present and relayed. It would make you ache a bit, because as a reader, you would somehow relate with the characters' experiences at some point. 

Ultimately though, what I gathered from this book would definitely be the value of time. I also thought about how coffee is best enjoyed when hot (unless you like it iced, that's fine too), so much like with time and being in the moment, it's best to be fully present. 

Would give Before The Coffee Gets Cold a 3! ★★★☆☆


If you could go back in time, would you? What would you change?

For me personally, I perhaps would. Maybe not out of regret, but maybe just so I could realize things a bit earlier? Though I think it does take years to come to a space of self-awareness and acceptance. Maybe it was meant to be that way. : - )

Hope you've been well, dear reader! Excited to hear your thoughts. 


  1. The story line sure sounds intriguing! I wish I found out what the book was about a few weeks ago. I think I saw this on Big Bad Wolf Books sale. Would've bought it!

    1. Whoa, it would've been really cool if it was on the Big Bad Wolf Books sale! Got my copy from Fully Booked :) it's an easy read, and makes us reflect on how we spend our time.

  2. ah this is has been on my tbr list for months! i'm still not ready for it though, i can already see this one's gonna tug on my mind and heart and make me do some reflection about life lol just me overthinking, really heh :) will brave to read this one soon!

    great review, anna!

    // Dems, not a diary

    1. Hi Dems! You're right, it's a book that'll make you reflect about life a lot. It's given me a new perspective especially now while living in a pandemic. I can't wait for you to read it!! :)

  3. Ooh, this book looks so cute! I just put a hold on it from my library. Thanks for the recommendation! Sounds like a very inventive concept. :)

    1. Lovely!! It's great that your library has a copy. I'm excited for you to read it :)

  4. I've been wanting to read this book for so long! The cover drew me in as well, I love anything coffee or cafe-related. The storyline seems really intriguing as well. I'm more of an iced coffee person but I can appreciate a warm cafe latte with sweet foam. haha

    I'm someone who would go back and change an event if I could. However, I know that if I went back and changed the time I would miss the opportunity to adopt my first pup and she's my best friend and I wouldn't want to miss that. So, maybe things are best left the way they are. ♥

    1. I hope you get the chance to read this book soon! :) It's great. I like it, though I wish it had more flare in the writing style, but overall still a great book to read. I'm not a big fan of coffee, but I don't mind having a cup with a friend once in a while :)

      Aww it's really heartwarming about your pup! I'm glad you have her, and it's definitely a precious event that can't be replaced. I guess we just have to make the most out of every outcome and situation. :)