I’ve been holding off on playing Coffee Talk even after reading Heather’s positive impressions the other day. It wasn’t until Kotaku’s Senior Editor Natalie Degraffinried was in town when I finally had a good excuse to play it, which we did for the first time together on video. What I wasn’t fully prepared for was how much it’s like one of my favourite shows on Netflix: Midnight Diner. And if you’re a fan of the show, then it’s a no-brainer. You’ll love this game.
Coffee Talk, much like Midnight Diner, centres around a fictional establishment that serves as a place to sit down and recharge in more ways than one. Coffee Talk takes place in a version of Seattle that’s steeped in fantasy. Elves, werewolves, vampires and even regular shmegular humans drop in for a warm serving of preferred caffeinated drinks and advice from the owner of the bar: you.
Midnight Diner is a series of novels, manga, movies and a TV show that served as my introduction to the world. The Netflix series, like the other iterations, centres around this mysterious tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant that only operates late at night. It welcomes in the weirdos from all walks of life who all happen to be awake and hungry. The Master, as he’s lovingly referred to in the show, lives right above the restaurant and makes food for his loyal small circle of customers, so long as he has the ingredients.
It’s a specific beat that Coffee Talk touches on when Freya, an aspiring writer, asks the player if they have what they need to make another customer’s favourite order. Thankfully, Jorji only wants the usual: coffee with a hint of sweetness. Other times, customers ask you to surprise them and it can be a fun challenge to mix something together that you hope they’ll enjoy.
The main similarity is not just in the drinks being served, but the helpful dependable presence you provide to these lost souls as they recharge at your shop. In Midnight Diner, the master tends to do more listening than talking, and most times, that’s exactly what these night owls need. It satisfies a very specific desire of mine to be nosy and messy all at the same time.
Moments after a couple has a very intense conversation about their parents’ lack of approval of their partners, my one loyal customer Freya popped over to the counter to discuss our thoughts very briefly. This happens all the time on Midnight Diner where other guests within earshot (which it’s impossible not to be in, given the size of the diner) all react like a greek chorus to whatever drama unfolded at the bar.
I never thought a video game could harken back to Midnight Diner in such a wonderful way. If you’re playing Coffee Talk and wish there was something else that could satisfy a similar itch, I can’t beg you enough to watch Midnight Diner. They feel very much like companion pieces to one another, and I’m so glad I now have a video game version of one of my favourite shows.