Cover Image: Before the Coffee Gets Cold

Before the Coffee Gets Cold

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Member Reviews

Yes, you can travel through time at that café, but there are rules. Very specific rules, the reasons for which aren't readily apparent, except as plot devices. But an author is allowed to create his own rules, and as plot devices they work well to deliver tension to the narrative, which works well, as this book isn't about the rules as much as it is about the characters. Each character has their own reason for wanting to travel in time, and, although one of the rules is that you won't change the present, each person comes back changed in themselves in some way.

This could have been a touching and tender story. Unfortunately, and I don't know whether to attribute this to the writing or the translation, the language was very stilted. The characters were sympathetic enough, but the wooden dialogue and strained narrative put a barrier between me and them, even between me and the story itself. Some of this might be due to the fact that Kawaguchi is a playwright before he's an author, but making the transition to writing a novel requires more than just changing stage directions to sentences.

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What if time traveling was as simple as sitting down in the right seat at a cafe? At an underground cafe in Tokyo, it really is. Customers confront former partners, visit lost loved ones, and meet people they were never afforded the opportunity to.

I enjoyed reading this so much more than I thought I would. Each story sucked me right in, wanting more of each. The characters are so lovable you cannot help but want the absolute best for them. And I'd be lying if I said the last story didn't make me tear up, despite my typical lack of emotion.

I would love to see this come to life on stage or even as a miniseries.

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Very interesting and unique book that covered a lot of ground. I will be recommending it to people who like fantasy and weird fiction.

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Readers follow the journeys of different Funiculi Funicula cafe patrons as they seek the cafe's reputed time travel ability in light of volatile personal experiences. Toshikazu Kawaguchi's thoughtful prose balances powerful emotions with the wonderful relationships between staff, new and longtime customers, without becoming saccharine. The peculiar, specific rules for time travel frequently deter folks from attempting it. For those who take the leap, the results are life-changing.

"Before the Coffee Gets Cold" provokes thoughtful discussions on the changes people can make in their lives, even if they can't travel backwards and forwards in time. Despite the fact that events cannot be changed by going to a specific moment, all of the persons who participated in the *journey* returned with new perspectives. The stories intertwine and include a wife caring for her husband with Alzheimer's, estranged sisters, and a mother facing a difficult decision. Compelling and beautifully crafted ruminations on identity, relationships, and choice. A great selection for book discussion groups and for sharing with loves ones.

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Would you travel back (or forward) in time if you could? What if the rules for doing so were somewhat restrictive? What if you could not leave your chair, and you had to return "before the coffee gets cold"? That's the baic premise of this short novel. But it's appeal is much larger, it is a fine piece of relationship fiction, delving into a young dating couple, an older couple dealing with illness, and the owners of a small Tokyo coffee shop where the possibility of time travel exists. Some language feels a little stilted in translation, but in all this was a delightful read.

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A time travel novel with 4 interesting plots. The stories themselves are meant to be heartwarming, but sadly this book is not for me. The translation seems awkward at times and there are plenty of abrupt transitions from one passage to the next that don't make a lot of sense.

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Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a book which gives one some idea of Japanese culture while also telling an excellent story of time travel and the interactions of a group of friends and family all centered in a small cafe. The book makes time travel seem perfectly possible in a gentle way and the lessons learned along the way make the characters very likeable.

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This one just wasn't for me, although it was a very sweet, heartfelt story. It has a very Japanese sensibility that perhaps doesn't translate well. A coffee shop allows its customers the opportunity to travel back in time, with many limitations, and they must come back "before the coffee gets cold."
In many ways, the story reminded me of one I heard on This American Life about Japanese people who place calls to loved ones who died in the tsunami via a phone booth: https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/japanese-phone-booth-for-calling-dead-relatives
It has the same mixture of profound sadness and hopelessness.
I couldn't finish the book (too sad), so maybe it does perk up, but most Japanese novels I have read don't culminate in a happy ending. :(

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A small cafe has has something odd and magical - if someone sits in a particular chair and a cup of coffee is poured, they can travel to the past for the length of time it takes their cup to cool. But there are strict rules, and no matter what you do, you cannot change the past. In the course of this slender story, the lives of cafe visitors and staff intertwine and four hoping, yearning people sit in the chair. For a book that deals with different kinds of loss, it's ultimately warm and uplifting..

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Would you go back in time to revisit a moment in your life, even though nothing that has happened will be changed? There is a small café that is off the beaten path in Japan. It is not a popular destination and is quite small inside, only three tables and bar seating. It is part of an Urban Legend, it is said that there is a special brew of coffee here that will take you back to a moment in time. There are quite a few rules that go along with this desire and they must be followed: there is only one seat that takes you back, you cannot leave that seat once you go back, you can only experience a moment that happened in that café, and nothing that happened can be changed from this visit, and you must drink the coffee in the cup before it gets cold or you will be stuck as a shade or ghost. The book is broken up into 4 different stories but all flowing around each other. It is written with love and care and told beautifully in such a way that makes you feel happiness even through the sadness of some of the stories. The stories start with a young couple who end up ending their relationship at the Cafe due to the boyfriend going to America for a job, then there is a married couple dealing with Alzheimer's affecting their relationship, a sister's relationship that had been broken for so long, and a mother and child relationship that is heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. A nice quick read that takes you to another country with a glimpse of the Japanese Culture

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Beautifully written, bittersweet, interconnected stories set in a small cafe in Tokyo; characters and their personal stories told through the window of what would one do if one could transport back in time to have a cup of coffee with someone just one more time. Best read this moving and mesmerizing book in one sitting (if one can), with a box of tissues nearby.

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Before the Coffee Gets Cold
My thanks to #NetGalley for this eBook in exchange for an honest review. What wrong would you right if you had the chance? Before the Coffee Gets Cold is part sci-fi time travel, part Japanese ghost story, a love story, and a tale of redemption and the heartbreaking saga of Alzheimer’s. It is an ambitious plot that is achieved with four interwoven tales of people seeking the chance to travel back in time for just one moment, one sliver of time to see if they could make any difference. Kawaguchi weaves a tale of past and future that reminds us the present is the most important place to be. Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a sweet, bittersweet, heartbreaking, and heart-mending tale of love in all of it’s glorious forms.

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This story of time travel is unique. As usual, time travelers must follow a set of rules, but here the rules are very strict and only allow a person to occupy a single chair for the time it takes a cup of coffee to get cold when they travel to the past. This book is a beautiful study about relationships and grief.

I felt the prose was a bit stiff and staccato, but that probably has more to do with translation than anything else. All in all, it's an enjoyable read.

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“If this continues, I won’t find myself in the present or past; I’ll simply vanish in a wisp of smoke. As this anxiety engulfed her, she brought to mind the first.”

Before The Coffee Gets Cold centers around a fabulous concept, but the story was not executed with as much panache as I would’ve liked to have seen. I feel as if too much of the narration was dedicated to working through the (arbitrary) rules behind the time travel model, which distracted from the character development and overall impact of the story. The entire time I was stuck thinking, is this time travel serving our characters a net positive effect? Or a negative one? I couldn’t tell because, much like the titular beverage, the story felt rather lukewarm to me. By this I suppose I mean that I had no emotional response whatsoever during this reading experience, and felt like during the final pages I was served up a rather lackluster wrap-up. Out of the four stories, I was most interested in the final one, the jump forward in time, which I think conceptually was a nice touch to spice up the narration. Part of my issue with this book was the insubstantial mis en scène. The café setting was absolutely crucial (the entire story happens in this one room), and we were given barely any basic descriptors. In my opinion, the experience could have felt more immersive had the author dedicated a bit more effort in building that tangible atmos. Overall, I found the concept of time travel and magical realism to be captivating enough to make it through the whole book, but didn’t end up feeling connected to the people or the place.

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Before the Coffee Gets Cold is an interesting story about a cafe where you can go back in time... if you are willing to follow all of the associated rules. It is a story about family relationships, love and what people are willing to sacrifice to find peace. The story was well told and rarely predictable. There were some areas where I think the translation could have been improved for an American audience (translator is Australian, I think). Overall, it was engaging and the author packed a lot of story into a small book. A good book club pick.

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What would you do if you could go back in time? In a small alley, there is a coffee shop that allows you to travel back in time, but you must stay in the café, you can only visit with those who’ve come to the café, you have to sit in a particular seat, you can’t change the present, and you must return before the coffee gets cold or get stuck in time. 4 people return to their past to right some wrongs: one to confront the man who left them, one to receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer's, one to see their sister one last time, and one to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know. This character-driven plot is intriguing, unique, and engaging. The characters are likable, easy to relate to, and it’s easy to see how all the different storylines tie together. Those who like time travel fiction, fantasy, and magical realism will enjoy reading this book.

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Good book with robust writing. The plot, at first, is hard to follow with the first couple of pages and the omnipotent third-person view. I got used to that eventually, but it was weird initially.

I liked the way the four stories really built off each other and I enjoyed learned more about Kumi, Kazu, Nagare and others as the focus shifted between each story. I would've liked to have seen how Fumiko ended up, but the whole point of the novel stands strong regardless of my own personal preference.

The ghost/curse thing was weird, but intriguing, I guess. I liked the idea of time travel with restrictions and without (that many) repercussions.

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This book just did not work for me. The pacing was a little slow--I just might not be attuned to Eastern rhythms. I would recommend the book to people who enjoy Asian literature.

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This was a fascinating fabulist story. It was a little difficult at times to understand the story's plot but still kept me guessing with every twist, which I appreciated.

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Didn't finish. In fact, I could barely start. I was so confused over who was who and what was going on! It was written in a choppy way that I couldn't follow at all.

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