Coffee Talk is a narrative-driven game that won the hearts of cozy gamers.
Based on a fantasy world version of Seattle, alternative human beings, werewolves, and vampires live side by side. You play as the barista and owner of Coffee Talk. The only late-night coffee shop in the city.
As Seattle sleeps you brew a warm drink or two for the local night shift workers, secret lovers, and nocturnal regulars.
I became obsessed with the entire game during the Lockdown of 2021.
Feeling incredibly isolated and alone I felt like I had made a new friend in Freya, and I became entwined in the stories of the customers. I needed a small break from the drama unfolding outside of my four walls and I found it by taking on the role of a virtual coffee shop owner.
Coffee Talk gained cult-like status among fans. Released in 2020, the game became a respite from the stresses of a pandemic, embracing gamers with a warm hug.
WHAT IS COFFEE TALK ABOUT?
Coffee Talk is a barista simulator with heavy dialogue and a small amount of actual player interaction.
It’s a visual novel game that instead encourages you to lend an ear and develop your listening skills by paying attention to the real-life inspired stories of the customers.
I found myself setting aside my books in the evenings to indulge in playing this game because I found the game’s chill atmosphere soothing before bedtime.
The game features:
- Tales of people around the alternative Seattle, a city where elves, orcs, mermaids, and many other fantasy races live together with humans in a modern world we are familiar with
- Branching story lines where the decisions do not come from the dialogue options you choose, but through how you treat and serve the customers of your café
- 90s anime-inspired pixel art visual and chill vibes-inducing color palette to help you immerse yourself in the game’s world
- Selection of jazzy and lo-fi music to accompany the late-night warm drinks and talks activities
- An experience to make you think, feel, and help rest your body and soul
THE BEAUTY OF COFEE TALK
The story plays out over 14 in-game days.
Each day you learn about your customer’s drink requirements and life woes in more detail.
The main storyline centers around Freya, a regular who’s trying to escape her day job as an article writer for the local newspaper by spinning tales about your customers for her first book, aptly named Coffee Talk.
Having an in-game mobile phone is a great addition to the game as you can take a breather from the stream of dialogue by reading the stories that Freya writes for the paper. Yes, it is more reading but it doesn’t feel like hard work, rather it’s a nice touch that gives depth to the world outside of the cafe.
What I consider the beauty of coffee talk is how relatable the dialogue is. It’s as if someone had found my old diary and answered my every question. In all honesty, it felt like having a good cup of coffee with a friend on a lazy Sunday afternoon where you can’t help but chat about every feeling and thought you’ve had recently.
The pixel art style in games I’m not generally a fan of but it wasn’t so harsh that it was unplayable for me. I still can’t sit through Stardew Valley for this very reason.
If you’re someone who tends to get social anxiety, you might find that Coffee Talk is a real game-changer.
As gamers, many of us tend to be on the quieter side, so having virtual friends in video games who can help us learn how to talk to people and make connections is an absolute joy.
It’s like having a supportive group of pals who are there to encourage us and help us grow, all while sipping on a hot drink.
WHAT’S ON THE MENU?
The story advances when you craft and serve drinks.
In the beginning, you don’t have many ingredients so you have fewer choices to choose from while you learn the game mechanics.
By combining a small selection of ingredients you craft your customer’s requested drink.
Your in-game phone acts as your guide but some drinks are only revealed through experimenting with different blends.
Gingerbread Coffee, for example, is a mix of coffee, ginger and cinnamon, and must be crafted in that order. If you make a mistake you have 5 tries to perfect your drink before being forced to serve whatever monstrosity you made on your last attempt.
Don’t worry if you make a mistake though, this game actually encourages experimentation with ingredients, it’s part of the fun. You’ll also get to experience some funny dialogue when you can’t quite get a drink right for your customer.
I recommend you play the game without looking up a drinks guide on your first play-through.
Making mistakes is essential to the learning process, as in life, because it allows you to earn rewards as you progress. So don’t worry about unlocking every drink on your first run, you should enjoy the story as it unfolds and get to know the characters well.
ENJOY LO-FI JAZZ CHILLHOP
Andrew Jeremy provides the game’s soundtrack which, mixed with the soothing sound of rainfall, gives Coffee Talk its welcoming ambiance. The number one reason I play cozy games is for their ambient sounds and soothing beats. Wytchwood is a perfect example of this!
The lofi beats playing throughout Coffee Talk create a relaxing atmosphere for you to sit back and experience the narrative of the game in endless mode or read the newspaper headlines.
As someone who can’t write without first finding a soothing 3hr loop of lofi on YouTube, this game’s music felt familiar and welcoming.
“Jazzy Chords, Hip-Hop Beats, Vinyl Crackles, A Chilled Mind And Heart, And A Prayer, That’s All You Need To Make Music For Coffee Talk. It’s Soothing, Relaxing, And Most Importantly, Keeping The Warmth Of Your Heart.”Jeremy Andrews
DOES COFFEE TALK HAVE MORE THAN ONE ENDING?
There are 3 endings that I won’t expose for you so as not to spoil anything.
In no particular order, one is for you, the barista, the second is for one of your customers and the third is for Freya. The multiple endings give the game a degree of replayability, although you can skip just to the scenes you need to redo once you complete the game.
I actually played this game 4 times in full because I thought I had missed some important detail, but I hadn’t and totally missed that each scene was separate and replayable in any order to get the drinks right.
Don’t be like me, unless you like wasting your time.
THE SAD PASSING OF FAHMI
There was an outpouring of love on Twitter for Mohammad Fahmi, the writer, designer, and director behind Coffee Talk who sadly passed away in early 2022 at the young age of 32.
Fahmi was working on AfterLove EP, a visual novel and rhythm game that is slated to arrive on Nintendo Switch and Steam in 2023.
IS THERE A COFFEE TALK 2?
Yes! Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterflies is the second installment of the series released on April 20th, 2023.
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