Before the Coffee Gets Cold

Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Before the Coffee Gets Cold Cover

Before the Coffee Gets Cold


Cafe Funiculi Funicula, the coffee shop where you can time travel, was a grand prize winning play in 2013. The book followed in 2015, a translated version and a film after that. Unfortunately, this reads more like a play than a book.

The story is fine, as it goes, and the time travel is why it ended up on my reading list. This time travel has plenty of rules, but they don't really get in the way. The time travelers, on the other hand, are not as good - or maybe a bit lost in translation.

That leaves the writing, with many descriptions of the colors, the people, the place - all that is missing is the stage directions. Some of the descriptions are a bit conflicting, and despite being on the cover - there is no cat.

I wonder how the play would have delved into the flashbacks and story elements, half of which were outside the cafe - a narrative? Again, maybe it was the translation, but putting them into the story (as the steam rises, blah) wasn't smooth.

Would I see the film? Sure - it looks like they flipped a few things, and the cafe is quite a bit larger. Would I read the sequel? I'd skim the first chapter, to see if the writing is better - or if it still feels like a play. Would I learn Japanese for this? Nope. This book rates a "just okay" of 2 stars out of 5.