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Before the Coffee Gets Cold

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  555 ratings  ·  150 reviews
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront t
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 2019 by Picador (first published December 6th 2015)
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3.87  · 
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 ·  555 ratings  ·  150 reviews

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Despite the appealing subject, the writing ruined the reading for me. It is written more as a theater play than anything else, with the right setup and characters. Everything is explained and the whole story takes place in the coffee shop.

The blurb is very accurate, so I won’t get into details. However, nothing in it to keep my interest. The characters are like puppets, their dialogues disjointed, the actions artificial.

The time travel part is more of a disguise here, I wouldn’t classify it in
3.5 stars. Quite moving.

In sum, this story indicates that the only thing you can really change is yourself.
Andrea Tome
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A poignant, atmospheric and heart-warming book which will make the perfect Winter read. Before the Coffee Gets Cold has one of the most original (and weirdly cosy?) premises I have ever read, and the lyrical writing and colourful cast of characters make it justice.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold is on the quieter side — not a lot of things happen, but the time-traveling element links every little story together.
This is one of the most humane novels I’ve read in a while. It explores identity, love (
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs-reviewed, 2019
This is the first time I have read a translation of Japanese literature, so I was unsure what to expect. This little book is about a small cafe where sitting in one particular chair allows patrons to return to a time in the past of their choosing, however there are some very strict rules, which include that they are unable to leave the seat, and must finish their coffee before it gets cold. We follow the stories of a number of patrons as they make the decision to go back to the past to see someo ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.
What a beautiful, moving book. I was in tears several times reading this, seeing the characters move through time and how they reacted to it. The deeper message in the book was wonderfully expressed - such a brilliant little read.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan and Netgalley for my proof in exchange for an honest review.
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I have to admit to being a little disappointed in this and not only because of the lack of a cat despite one being shown on the cover. Having recently developed a love of Japanese fiction I was very excited to come across this on Netgalley, particularly when I read the blurb and discovered it was a story involving time travel (I love stories with time travel). Perhaps my expectations were too high as while I loved the concept behind it I didn't really connect to it and it became an OK read rathe ...more
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it

In a little Japanese basement cafe, it’s possible to travel back in time... though the possibility is hedged about with so many rules and restrictions, most people don’t bother. This book tells the story of four people who do.

The beginning was quite confusing to me, with many characters and a lot of unavoidable exposition. After a while, I had the characters mainly sorted out in my mind... though still had to remind myself at times. Interestingly, all the characters who choose to time travel are
Sep 04, 2019 added it
It's an interesting idea and it sometimes gets right to the sweet spot but the writing style or translation is just all over the place. It rarely flows, it feels quite choppy. I suspect it's the translation and there has been an attempt to stick to the original text and so it's choppy and clunky.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Theodore's Bookish Thoughts
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5 out of 5 Stars ✯✯✯✯✯

This is a book which I requested, and was granted early access to, on Netgalley. For those of you who do not know, Netgalley is a website on which Book Reviewers/BookBloggers can request books before they have been released – in return for a review of the book. This is my first Netgalley book review.

As suggested by the title of this post, this was originally written in Japanese but later translated into English. The book was originally released in Japan in 2015, and is set
S. Naomi Scott
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

++ DISCLAIMER – I received an advanced reading copy of this novel from the publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review. ++

When I originally read the synopsis for this book I was more than a little intrigued by the premise it presented. A coffee shop in the heart of Tokyo, where patrons could travel back in time in order to revisit past loves or spend one last moment with a lost family member, or even to meet the daughter they never knew. It’s a premise with a
Jamie Brackell
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a sucker for a good time travel story, I was drawn to this novel for its science-fiction elements but the novel is firmly focused on the human nature of time travel. In fact, the ability to travel backwards and forwards in time seems to be a natural phenomenon in this book, given little explanation and treated as a quirk of the coffee shop, which adds to the charm of the novel. The book itself is broken down into four distinct sections which allows Toshikazu Kawaguchi to develop the character ...more
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
‘If you could go back, who would you want to meet?’

Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s 2015 novel now gets an English-language publication, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot. It is an utterly charming little piece, quietly moving and with a quirkiness which tends to be a signature of Japanese literature.

In a Tokyo basement café, called Funiculi Funicula, where the temperature inside is always pleasantly cool, there is a seat that is a portal for the willing to time travel. There are, however, several rules to
Pile By the Bed
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Before the Coffee Gets Cold has a science fictional premise but it is one that is so loose that to call this book science fiction would be stretching the friendship. A certain chair in a certain underground café in Tokyo (called Funiculi Funicula) is the key top travelling through time. But before anyone gets any ideas of a Back to the Future-style romp, they are introduced to the rules. So many rules. The rules make sense in light of what author Toshikazu Kawaguchi is trying to convey but they ...more
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, own-voices
I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

It was hard to know how to rate this book. I liked the concept a lot but, at least in my translated version, the writing is not impressive, by a long shot. And it's hard to know how much of that is because the translator is endeavouring to remain faithful to the original narrative which happens to be poorly written, or that the work does not stand up to translation, or that the translator has not done good work. As such I decided on 5* for conce
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very sweet, easy little book... at least, at first glance it seems like it.
Everybody knows time travel. From fantasy books, superhero movies, and I'm sure we've all played with the tough - even for just a bit - of going back in time, thinking about when, and where we'd visit and why.
But we can all forget the well walked path, because here, at Funiculi Funicula, time travel is bound by strict rules. So much so, that most people don't even bother with it because they feel that the rules
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short, quirky little novel which I really enjoyed. It has to be said that the translation is a little clunky in places but, in some ways, that adds to its charm. The plot is set within a small coffee shop in Tokyo where customers can travel either back or forward in time providing they adhere to a certain set of rules: nothing they do when they time travel can affect the future; they have to sit in a particular seat and they must return to the present before the coffee, which has been poured f ...more
Tess Lock
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
First line and I’m besotted with this other world....I was right in the middle of another book but have dropped everything for this ( sorry other author) ignoring my poor husband who is now digging in the garden all by himself!

I don’t know what it is about the writing and use of language but I am transported right into the world of this cafe, I think that maybe there is yet another chair for me, the invisible reader. I will not say anything about this story, I never reveal the story line in a r
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Who knew our shelves needed – or would actually provide – a Japanese Mitch Albom, featuring a singular coffee bar that has only nine covers, but one amongst those nine that can send you back in time to see your loved ones in the past? I came here because I could sense a bit of the Albom DNA, and I got what I wanted. So that meant I had inherently easy and readable storytelling, great characters, and a peculiar situation being utilised to show us the glory of love, togetherness and all those othe ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a beautifully written book about love, loss and second chances. I loved every page.

When I found out that this was a book about time travel set in a coffee shop,  well, I just knew that I had to read it. What lured me in was the notion of having one last chance to see a loved one again. The lover who got away, or a loved one who died too young. Who wouldn't grab this chance if it was offered to them? And this is what makes the book work. The fairytale becomes realit
Nigel Masterton
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's always enlightening to read translations of novels from other cultures and Before the Coffee Gets Cold is no exception. The setting is a below street level coffee shop which has gone largely unchanged for 100 years. A lady, sits alone at one of the very few tables quietly drinking her coffee and reading a novel. Only when she goes to the loo can someone else sit in her seat. And then the magic begins. The person, in that seat, can time-travel subject to strict rules but the duration of thei ...more
Pamela Scott
Sep 07, 2019 rated it did not like it

ARC from @picadorbooks via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed

The blurb made this book sound like it would be a great read. Unfortunately, it failed on almost every level. The writing, or rather the poor writing style really let the book down. At times I felt like I was reading a play rather than a novel. A lot of unnecessary time is spent setting up the coffee shop and the characters. I started to get bored only a few pages in which is not a good sign. Th
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Where to start ... Once in a while a little gem comes along !
This book grabbed me with the time travel theme -which is one of my favourite genres. . However the first couple of chapters were a bit of a struggle -. this may have to do with the translation from Japanese. I felt I was reading the author's notes rather than a novel -then I was trying to remember the names of the characters rather than pay attention to the story .- Then it all came together and I absolutely loved it .
The whole story
Deborah Dare
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The coffee served in this café sounds like the most delicious coffee. The description of the sweltering temperature outside of the café actually made me feel too hot so I started fanning myself.

I adored this book and all of the characters, including grumpy Nagare. It was fascinating learning the rules about being able to travel in time when sitting in ‘that’ chair. The chair that is occupied by a ghost lady wearing a white dress. I particularly liked Kohtake’s visit to see Fusagi when he still
Mike Sumner
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gentle, moving, whimsical tale by the author of The Guest Cat set in a café in Tokyo where coffee has been served for 100 years, from where folklore says it is possible to travel back in time. Those who wish to do so must sit in a particular chair and their time spent in the past is limited to the time taken to drink the cup of coffee in front of them before it gets cold. They can only meet customers who patronise the establishment and have to understand that, no matter what, their experience ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I struggled with this to begin with, perhaps because of the slightly clunky translation, perhaps because it just took a little while to get started, but towards the end of the first story, I found myself caught up in the story. I love Japan, and have loved many of the translated Japanese novels I've read (though not all!) They can be an acquired taste...I do wonder about the translation of this one, and how it reads in the original Japanese.
This is a short little book, a little bit magical, a li
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was excited to get to read this book when it came up on NetGalley as I lived in Japan for many years, as a child and then as an adult. The translation may have read strangely for a non speaker of Japanese, but to me, it was so wonderfully correct and familiar,
The story itself is of a cafe where time travelling is possible but only if certain rules were followed including finishing the cup of coffee before it got cold. A wonderfully imaginative take on travelling through time. The characters i
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A magical coffee shop where you can travel back in time, or look into the future. However, there are so many rules that make the whole time traveling unusually interesting. “No matter what you do, you can’t change what happened or is supposed to happen”, this is a typical one for all time traveling stories to prevent butterfly effect. However, setting a time limit of “you have to come back before the coffee cools down completely” and “you can only meet people who have visited this coffee shop” m ...more
Sep 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This book had a great premise but ultimately fell a little flat for me.

There is a tiny coffee shop in Tokyo where visitors are able to travel back in time subject to the following caveats; they must sit in a specific seat, they must not leave the cafe, and they must return before the coffee gets cold.

We follow four people who have various reasons for going back in time. The most poignant two for me were a wife who went back to see her husband before Alzheimer’s stole his memories of her and a
Charlotte Booth
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was quirky and very distinctly Japanese. I can see it being turned into an anime.

The story is about an old cafe in Tokyo, which has a 'magical' seat which can transport the person seated in it into the past.

There are a number of rules which must be followed such as in the past they cannot leave the seat and can only meet people who are in the cafe, and the most important being they have to finish their cup of coffee before it goes cold.

The book follows the movin
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