December: “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Our December 2020 Book of the Month

Before the Coffee Gets Cold is the perfect end of the worst year ever Book of the Month selection. This charming novel by Toshikazu Kawaguchi of time travel, relationships, and life choices has just been translated from Japanese. Our December Book of the Month is a joy and a pleasure to read.

I have been reading all of the recent releases and recommendations, many of them wonderful book club selections. My choice is not the perfect novel yet it has interesting echoes of having been originally on the stage and if 9 months in lockdown has taught me anything it is that perfection is overrated. To be completely honest I picked Before the Coffee Gets Cold because as I was reading the end of the novel, I realized I had a smile on my face. I felt at peace and was reminded about how we can reframe our lives even if we can’t always control our destiny. It is a quiet, simple, and heartwarming story. Just what the Book Doctor ordered to move us into a new and brighter year.


If you could go back, who would you want to meet?

In a small back alley of Tokyo, there is a café that has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. Local legend says that this shop offers something else besides coffee — the chance to travel back in time.

Over the course of one summer, four customers visit the café in the hopes of making that journey. But time travel isn’t so simple, and there are rules that must be followed. Most important, the trip can last only as long as it takes for the coffee to get cold.

Heartwarming, wistful, mysterious and delightfully quirky, Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s internationally bestselling novel explores the age-old question: What would you change if you could travel back in time?


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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