• NZ Booklovers

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi


This book was a sensation when it was published in Japan, and it’s now been translated into English for us to enjoy.

The premise of the book is intriguing. There is a small café in a back alley in Tokyo that has been serving the same coffee for the past one hundred years. The coffee shop offers customers a unique experience – that they can travel back in time.


But it’s not as easy as it sounds. There are rules. The customers must sit in a particular seat, which most of the time is occupied by a ghost. The customers cannot leave the café. Most tricky of all, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold, or face the same fate as the ghost who currently spends most of her time stuck in the special chair.


Four customers decide to drink the special coffee in this novel and go back in time. There is the woman who wants to confront her lover, there is a woman who is to receive a letter from her husband who is battling dementia, there is another woman who wants to see her sister one last time, and there is the woman who wants to meet the daughter she never got to know.


All the stories are interrelated, and it’s a beautiful, moving read. It begs the question – who would you travel back in time to meet again if you could. An original and thought-provoking novel.


Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Published by Macmillan publishers

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