Book Review Magical Realism Time Travel

Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi – Book Review

I haven’t read a lot of Japanese fiction before and have been wanting to get on it for the longest time. Last summer, I decided to buy There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job but got bored in the first few chapters. So when I saw Before The Coffee Gets Cold on sale at Indigo Books, I knew I had to get it. It’s a short and easy read, and perhaps this might be a good entry to Jap Fic that I’ve been looking for. Remembering that I had a $10 gift card at Indigo, I decided to purchase this book and I ended up only paying $5 total!

Read on below to see what I think about this book.

Pub Date: December 6, 2015 (Original Japanese version)

September 19, 2019 (English version)

Publisher: Picador

Number of Pages: 213

Genre: Japanese Fiction, Magical Realism, Time Travel


Toshikazu Kawaguchi, author of Before The Coffee Gets Cold


Before The Coffee Gets Cold is a collection of stories that takes place in a small coffee shop in a back alley in Tokyo that offers the chance to time travel to a specific point in time. The premise is simple but there are caveats and specific rules. First, you can only time travel while sitting at a particular seat at the cafe. You cannot leave the cafe. You can travel to the past but whatever you do will not affect the present or the future. And lastly, you must return to the present time before the coffee gets cold.


This was such an interesting book that talks about regrets and forgiveness. The book is fast-paced and can easily be finished in one sitting. I had some trouble getting into it at first, but I think part of it is because the book is translated literature. And I suspect that some of the content did not translate well so the writing was a bit choppy for my liking. 

The other reason is because the book was originally written as a play before it was adapted into a novel. It’s broken down into four parts with each part focusing on a story of its own. I find it a bit disjointed and also each story ends abruptly. If any of my readers can read Japanese and have read this in the original format, let me know how it compares!


If you like books about time-travel then I suggest reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. With a disclaimer that The Midnight Library focuses more on alternative realities than actual time travel. In TML, you can only visit a possible future but you cannot travel to the past.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

If you can travel in time knowing that there’s nothing you can do to change anything, are you still going to do it? If so, who would you choose to meet?


One reply on “Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi – Book Review”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s