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Before The Coffee Gets Cold Review

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Before The Coffee Gets Cold is a novel by bestselling Japanese author and playwright Toshikazu Kawaguchi.

It’s the first book in the series, followed by Tales From The Cafe, Before Your Memory Fades and Before We Say Goodbye.

Before The Coffee Gets Cold originally began as a play, before being adapted into a novel in 2015. The novel was then translated into English by Geoffrey Trousselot. 

Before The Coffee Gets Cold was an international bestseller with more than one million copies sold.

This is my honest Before The Coffee Gets Cold review.

Before The Coffee Gets Cold Review: Plot

The novel takes place in a small Tokyo alley where a centuries-old café is renowned for serving carefully brewed coffee. However, that’s not all the coffee shop offers. For over one hundred years it’s rumoured to grant customers the ability to travel back in time.

During a single summer, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the cafe’s time-travelling offer. Each story is different with one wanting to confront the man who left them while another wants to receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by Alzheimer’s. One wants to see their sister one last time, and another wants meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

Yet, time travel here comes with strict rules. The most crucial rule is you must finish your coffee before it gets cold, or you risk getting trapped in the past forever, making each visit to the past a race against time.

Before The Coffee Gets Cold Review: My Opinion

I loved the premise of this story and in some ways it does deliver. It offers a unique take on time travel and rather than feeling like a science fiction novel, the emphasis was placed very much on the characters and their emotions.

I liked how there were four separate parts to the story as each customer made their own trip back to the past. Each short story was interlinked and the situations were all varied.

However the writing style is simplistic and often feels quite repetitive. The constant descriptions of the outfits of the characters and the decor of the cafe reminded me that this novel started off as a play. The constant repetition of the rules also became quite tiresome.

I preferred one story over the other three and found the writer’s portrayal of women a bit frustrating. I don’t want to include any spoilers but I was left feeling a little uncomfortable by some of the female characters’ decisions.

Despite these misgivings I did feel drawn into the story and was intrigued to see where each journey would end. I found it thought provoking and it made me wonder what I would do if I had the chance to go back in time.

There’s another three books in the story and I’d be interested to read the second book to see if my issues with the first are resolved.

Before The Coffee Gets Cold Review: Summary

While it does have it flaws, I found Before The Coffee Gets Cold to be an intriguing take on time travel and I’d be interested in reading the second book in the series.

I hope you found my Before The Coffee Gets Cold book review helpful. The book is available to buy now.

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Before The Coffee Gets Cold Series in Order

This review contains affiliate links. For more information see my disclosure policy.

Jen is the owner and writer of MMB Book Blog. A lifelong bookworm, she aims to provide readers with literary inspiration in the form of book reviews, reading lists and more. As the daughter of a librarian Jen's love of books started from a very early age. Her reading obsession continued throughout her teenage years when she studied both English Language and English Literature at college. As an adult her love of reading has only increased and she can always be found with her head in a book.