Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe is the second instalment by Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s on the unique time travelling stories from Cafe Funiculi Funicula. Set in a small back alley of Tokyo, the cafe provides its customers a chance to travel in time and to experience it, all these customers have to follow a set of rules—they must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold.
The first book told the stories of four people who tried to make things right by travelling back to the past and along with them, the stories of the staff working at the cafe were told. In this second book, four new customers visit the cafe and their stories unfold. This time, a travel to the future is included! I’m also excited that I’ve got to know more about the employees of the cafe through these stories.
The four stories in this book are: a man who travels back to past to meet his best friend who died years ago, a son who was unable to attend his mother’s funeral time-travels to meet her for one last time, a dying man tries to see the girl he couldn’t marry, and an old detective who never had a chance to give his wife the birthday gift.
From time to time, we have such fantasy to time travel and occasional urges to go back in time so that we can amend the hurtful past. As we all can’t be free from mistakes, we grieve on our past and yearn for a closure. Come to think of it, it seems like a selfish act cause we go back to past to make our present self feel better?
Anyway, it is a satisfying and entertaining read. Although I feel the narrative is a tad long-winded in some parts, each story is emotionally engaging. My favourite are the second and the third. The writer beautifully interwove a heartfelt story of the waitress Kazu in the book, too. It would make you spend your night wondering “what if I could get a chance to visit that cafe?”