This cafe serves coffee, snacks, personable customer service, and that little something extra!
Tucked away in an unremarkable Tokyo alley and down a flight of stairs is the little basement cafe called Funiculi Funicula. Inside, the space is small and dimly lit, with only three tables for two and a couple of seats at a counter. The owner is Nagare Tokita and his wife, Kei, with a cousin, Kazu, serving the regular customers and anyone else who finds their way there. However, the cafe offers more than well-crafted coffee and delicious snack foods. It's no secret; the media has covered their story often enough in the past. But in the cafe, there is this one special table with a particularly special chair where its occupant can go back in time. A trip to the past will not change the visitor's present ... as long as they return before the coffee gets cold.Before the Coffee Gets Cold
was a remarkable story, or rather, a collection of stories connected through the owners, staff, and patrons of the cafe. I really didn't know what to expect when I picked this book but was immediately absorbed in its tales. I loved how the characters continued through the different stories because of their initially random patronage of this tiny coffee shop.
There are rules involved in the time travel aspect, and on first reading, I wondered how the restrictions would allow for a good story. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how things panned out, considering the very tiny stage that is the result. I also liked that the circumstances that drove the characters to time travel were normal, believable ones and a desire for a second chance.
As in others, the characters evolved over the course of the book, even though they may not have been the focus of a particular story. As a group, they are something of a "found" family, which reminded me of the old television show "Cheers." I felt like I knew these people, and I began to care what happened to them very quickly.
I recommend BEFORE THE COFFEE GETS COLD to general fiction readers who would enjoy a touch of the paranormal in their stories and those who like tales of time travel or second chances.