Before The Coffee Gets Cold By Toshikazu Kawaguchi: Book's Review and Summary

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi | Book Review

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi is a must-read book for anyone who enjoys thought-provoking and emotionally engaging stories. This novel has captured the hearts of readers all over the world with its compelling plot, relatable characters, and its thought-provoking themes. In this review, we will explore the details of this novel, discussing its most notable elements and analyzing the story and the author’s style.


Before the Coffee Gets Cold is the debut novel by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, a Japanese author and playwright. The book is a translation of the original Japanese version, and it was first published in 2018. This novel tells the story of a small Tokyo café with an unusual feature that allows its customers to travel through time by sitting in a specific seat.

The café, named Funiculi Funicula, attracts people from all walks of life, each with their own motivation for time travel. The café’s owner, Nagare, explains the rules to the guests: they have to follow a set of specific instructions, and they cannot change the past. Additionally, they must return to present time before the coffee they ordered gets cold, or they will be stuck in the past forever.

Main Themes and Ideas

One of the most striking elements of this novel is the way it examines family relationships and the consequences of certain actions or decisions on these relationships. Each character that travels in time has something they wish they had done differently in their past, and they hope that time travel will allow them the chance to right a wrong. However, throughout the novel, we see that changing the past doesn’t always produce the desired outcome and can sometimes result in even worse consequences.

Another central theme of the book is the idea of living in the present and the understanding that even if you cannot change the past or predict the future, you can savor the moments that you have, and make the most out of them. This concept is explored through the stories of the characters who attempt to change their past, but in doing so, become more grateful for the present.

Author’s Writing Style

Kawaguchi’s writing style is simple and concise, while still managing to convey a profound message. The author’s use of time travel adds a speculative element to the story, but it never detracts from the central themes and emotions the novel presents. The characters are well-developed, each with a unique backstory told with sensitivity and detail. The author’s ability to delve deep into the characters’ minds and motivations, and present their stories in a relatable way, is one of the most impressive aspects of the book.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The novel’s strengths are its distinct and memorable characters and the way they are woven together in a complex web of storytelling. The author creates an environment where the reader is not just an observer but is instead deeply invested in the characters, their relationships, and their futures. Additionally, the unique concept of the time-traveling café adds an element of fantasy to the story without sacrificing realism.

One weakness of the novel is the brevity of some storylines. While this may be a deliberate stylistic choice, some readers may not appreciate the lack of detail in some of the backstory and character development. However, it is worth noting that this does not detract from the overall quality of the book.

Comparison to Other Works in its Genre

Before the Coffee Gets Cold has been compared to both science-fiction and magical-realism genres, and it easily stands shoulder to shoulder with works such as The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Kawaguchi’s work is unique in many ways, but it shares the same spirit and emotional depth that define these classics of literature.


In conclusion, Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a beautifully written and emotionally resonant debut novel that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page. The novel’s powerful themes, unforgettable characters, and thoughtful writing make this a must-read for anyone looking for a meaningful and engaging read. Highly recommended!


Is Before the Coffee Gets Cold science fiction or magical realism?

This novel is commonly classified as a work of magical realism, a genre that combines realistic elements with fantastical or magical ones. However, some readers may view the novel as science fiction due to its use of a time-traveling device.

Is there a sequel to Before the Coffee Gets Cold?

Yes, Toshikazu Kawaguchi has written two sequels to Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe and Friends from the Cafe. Tales from the Cafe contains four standalone stories based around the time-traveling café, while Friends from the Cafe is a continuation of the original story.

Can time travel really be possible?

While there is no scientific evidence to suggest that time travel is feasible, many scientists and researchers continue to study the concept and explore its possibilities. Time travel remains a popular topic in science fiction and popular culture.

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