Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi [Book Review]

I bought this book on a complete whim when I was out in Waterstones for the first time since before lockdown, and I was super excited! I loved the cover, had heard the name flying about somewhere on bookstagram, so thought: why not give it a go?


Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a Japanese bestseller in translation, all about a little coffee shop in the back alley of Tokyo with unique powers – the ability to send people back in time. If a visitor sits in one particular seat, they can travel back to any moment they choose. But there’s a catch: they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold.

My Thoughts

First of all, I just wanted to say how much I love the concept of this book. I have such a vivid image in my head of what it would be like to live in this coffee shop of a world, where travelling in time becomes a way of finding purpose, of understanding others, of understanding yourself. I found myself telling my family the plot of the book in so much detail, because it’s such an inspiring story, I couldn’t help talking about it!

However, there is a but. The but is that I really did not enjoy the writing itself, and that disappoints me so much. I really wanted to like it – I tried so hard to like it – but I couldn’t connect to the characters in the way I wanted to. It felt like standing in front of a brick wall and I just couldn’t get past it.

For me, a good book is one I can connect with on a deeper level, one where the characters come alive and exist in themselves, and I think with this one they felt a little bit like templates that hadn’t fully formed inside my head yet, which is such a shame, but that’s my honest opinion!

Overall, I feel like this book has so much potential – there are so many different directions it could have taken. The key message by the end of the book did swing it for me a little, because I liked the way it was concluded (I won’t reveal spoilers, don’t worry), but I can’t give it more than 3 stars.

This book won’t be for everyone, and it was a very conflicting read for me, but I still feel like I got something out of it – I’m sure the plot will stick with me for a while, regardless.

Have you read Before the Coffee Gets Cold?

Let me know in the comments below!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

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15 thoughts on “Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi [Book Review]

  1. Sounds like an interesting read! I also heard about this books from here and there, but nothing more than the title until now.
    My first thought when reading your the summary from your post – the available time “to travel” depends on how hot the coffee was at the beginning, and also whether it has milk or not! :))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah I’m glad I could give you a little more insight then! And that’s funny, I never thought of it like that! But you’re absolutely right – those factors would make a big difference 😂

      Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been watching lots of visits recently of Brandon Sanderson and Neil Gaiman giving writing above. They’ve both said, in different ways, a great writer can work with an average (or worse) idea and write a good story with relatable and likeable characters. A less proficient writer won’t yet have the skills to turn even great idea into a good story.

    From your review that’s a little bit what this book sounds like. An ingenuous idea, but not executed as well as it could have been. Thank you for sharing your honesty. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a very good point! I agree – when I think of my favourite authors, I reckon they could make even the simplest of books great.
      Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

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