How cool would that be if we could get transported back in time. What would you change if you could travel back in time?
I love stories that centre around time travel and also novels about coffee, so when I came across the novel Before the coffee gets cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, I had to get a copy of the fiction.
In Before the coffee gets cold, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for over a hundred years. The coffee shop, located in an alley in Tokyo, is known to offer customers a chance to travel back in time and also into the future ( though this is not encouraged). There are five rules to abide if a customer wishes to travel back or forth in time. To begin with, the only people they can travel back in time to meet are those who have visited the café, that being the case one can see how going into the future may be an exercise in futility. The customers who are interested to travel back in time have to sit in a particular seat in that café and they must not leave the café while they revisit the past and they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold. However ‘No matter how hard one tries while back in the past, one cannot change the present’.
In the story, there are four visitors who want to make use of the café’s time travelling offer. One was to reconnect with her younger sister, there was also one story about a letter being written by a man for his wife before his memory was failing and the man wanted to travel back in time to give her the letter before he lost his memory. One young woman wanted to revisit the day when she was with her boyfriend who has already left for America because she had not said what she was supposed to say to him.
In Before the coffee gets cold, the magazine piece on the urban legend had stated “At the end of the day, whether one returns to the past or travels to the future, the present does not change. So it raises the question: just what is the point of that chair?
Kazu is the server who makes the coffee and tell her customers with her cool expression,“ Drink the coffee before it gets cold.”
Kazu believes that ‘ no matter what difficulties people face, they will always have the strength to overcome them. It just takes heart. And if the chair can change someone’s heart, it clearly has its purpose. ‘
Kawaguchi takes the theme of time travel through four stories beautifully narrated and explore the question: Is there any point in travelling through time knowing that you cannot change the present? Before the coffee gets cold is a commendable read.