Before the coffee gets cold: Summary & Review

“And you must return before the coffee goes cold. “



The cafe’s name was ‘Funiculi Funicula’. It was daytime outside, but in this windowless cafe, there was no sense of time. Dim lighting gave the cafe a sepia hue. The clang-dong of the bell was also comforting. All this created a comforting, retro atmosphere. It had been incredibly cool in the cafe, but there was no sign of an air conditioner. A wooden-bladed fan fixed to the ceiling was slowly rotating, but that was all. Kohtake asked both Kei and Nagare about this strange, cool cafe. Neither provided satisfactory answers; they just said, ‘It’s been like this since long ago.’

The cafe had become famous, with long queues each day, on account of the time-traveling. But it wasn’t possible to find anyone who had actually gone back in time, because of the extremely annoying rules that had to be followed.

Must-Follow Rules to go to the past
  1. The only people one may meet while back in the past are those who have visited the cafe.
  2. It has no matter how hard one tries while back in the past, one cannot change the present.
  3. In order to return to the past, you have to sit in that seat and that seat alone. This was the seat occupied by the woman in the dress.
  4. While back in the past, you must stay in the seat and never move from it.
  5. There is a time limit. One must return before the coffee gets cold.

Among these visitors, Fumiko, Kohtake, Hirai, and Kei went time travelling for the sake of wanting to fix their mistakes or to acknowledge the people who did great for them in the past. Their stories are different and their contributions are colorful. At the same time, they all have the same purpose that they can’t change the present, but they can be the change to the present. When we think from another dimension, time-traveling is the silliest and most useless idea since it cannot change anything in the present.

So why? Indeed, it would not bring any transformation to us. However, in mankind nature, people want to fill their responsibilities that they couldn’t contribute in the past. They just want to make sure that they are doing things that they should do in the past. They get reflections on their mistakes and learn how to change themselves so that their present life become the change that they want to be in mind.


To be honest, I didn’t have high intentions on this book until I have done reading half of the pages. The book is divided into four parts: The Lovers, Husband & Wife, The Sisters, Mother & Child. When you start to read the book, it may seem like ordinary plots and characters that are portrayed about love between the young. But it would not end here. This book embedded deeper thoughts and feelings about love, value, and understanding among human beings. It is not explicit writing but subtle art, depicting nuances in every single word. You necessarily notice them and touch your heart, again you might sympathize with the characters and put yourself in their shoes.

The storyline is beautiful, sometimes the spirited flashback and its transparent writing style. This book won’t make you regrettable passing by that time. I highly recommend checking this book for sure if you are finding an old but gold book. Peace!

Author Information

Toshikazu Kawaguchi was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1971. He formerly produced, directed and wrote for the theatrical group Sonic Snail. As a playwright, his works include COUPLE, Sunset Song, and Family Time. The novel Before the Coffee Gets Cold is adapted from a 1110 Productions play by Kawaguchi, which won the 10th Suginami Drama Festival grand prize.

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