Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly is the anticipated follow-up to Toge Productions’ cozy café simulator released in 2020. Players don the apron of a barista at Coffee Talk, a late-night café that caters to anyone who finds a seat at the counter. Set several years after the events of the first episode, the sequel brings players back to the alternate fantasy version of Seattle where orcs, elves, and vampires are regulars at your establishment. Episode 2 introduces several new characters alongside returning customers from the first game, all of whom have new stories to tell and issues to discuss.
Chatting over coffee
Coffee Talk is primarily a narrative-driven experience with some drink-making and interactivity mixed in. In Episode 2, players return to serve beverages to patrons from all walks of life, ranging from local Seattleites to tourists from afar. Although returning customers and regulars make up the bulk of the sequel’s customer base, there are a few new faces to get acquainted with as well.
Whether they are looking to meet up with a companion or are simply seeking shelter from the seemingly endless rain, nearly every customer who enters Coffee Talk shares the common goal of wanting to chat over a warm beverage. The entirety of the game is spent behind the counter, where you must concoct drinks and converse with the eclectic clientele. While the sequel offers mostly the same selection of coffees and teas from the first episode, the menu has since expanded to include Butterfly Pea and Hibiscus tea offerings, introducing a variety of vivid-colored drinks for players to discover.
Spill the tea
As the owner and head barista, you inevitably form relationships with your customers as you chat them up about their lives, especially those who return to the café for a dose of perspective with their cup of joe. Alongside the café regulars, Episode 2 introduces several new characters to get acquainted with, including Riona, a banshee looking to make her big break as an opera singer, and Lucas, an ambitious satyr influencer who wants to change for the better. Each character’s story unfolds as you strike up a conversation over a warm beverage. The café doubles as a meeting place and safe space for those seeking refuge, whether it be from relentless thunderstorms or personal responsibilities.
From the wry musings of brooding vampire Mr. Hyde to the jovial remarks of pop-star nekomimi Rachel, the text-based dialogue is well written and does a good job conveying each character’s unique personality, despite the occasional grammatical error. Conversations are entirely scripted, and there is no decision-making during dialogue segments. Instead, player choice primarily occurs during the drink-making process.
The types of drinks you serve can affect the relationships you have with your customers, for better or worse. You also have a drawer for storing objects that are either left behind by customers or are given to you for various reasons. Who you choose to give these items to can also impact the narrative outcomes for certain characters, leading to branching storylines.
Making beverages consists of combining different types of coffee and tea with honey, milk, lemon, and other ingredients to create an extensive menu of warm drinks for your customers. When not given specific instructions, you will have to concoct something based on the flavor profile that the customer gives, along with any other details. A sweet, spicy drink will likely contain honey and ginger, for example. Milk-based beverages can be adorned with latte art using pouring and etching tools. Although the novelty of latte art wears off pretty quick, I appreciated having another means of interactivity during the limited gameplay segments.
Although most drink orders are easy enough to figure out, you are given a limited number of chances to trash and re-brew drinks to ensure they are correct. As you discover new recipes, they will become available via the Brewpad app in your in-game smartphone, which is also where you can change the song playing in the coffee shop and glean new details about your patrons via the social media app Tomodachill. Those who fumble too many drinks or want to retry a conversation have the option to replay from the start of the day or from a previous save. The fast-forward button allows for quickly skipping through dialogue that you’ve already seen, making subsequent replays much less time consuming.
Occasionally you will have to come up with a recipe on the fly with the ingredients you have on hand, calling for some experimentation. Though I enjoyed the fleeting thrill of discovering a new visually pleasing beverage, I had hoped for more opportunities to create such concoctions during the campaign. Free Brew mode opens up after completing the story for the first time, allowing you to play around with recipes and flesh out your menu. Players can also test their brewing capacities during Challenge Mode, which tasks you with fulfilling drink orders within a time limit.
Chill vibes only
Episode 2 retains the same anime-inspired pixel art aesthetic from the first Coffee Talk while expanding upon its selection of chill music by composer Andrew Jeremy. Relaxing lo-fi tunes complemented by the sounds of rain and thunderstorms add to the cozy, immersive ambiance of the coffee shop. While I enjoyed unraveling the intriguing stories of each character, it is the soundtrack that will stick with me long after closing time.
Upon finishing the story, players are encouraged to replay the game to discover the different narrative endings for each character. Alongside Free Brew and Challenge Mode, several post-game extras become available, including a photo gallery and achievements list.
Where everybody knows your name
Coffee Talk is about non-human creatures navigating very human problems, which they sort out over a cup of espresso rather than seeking proper counseling. Sass aside, I enjoyed getting to know the diverse cast of characters and discovering their drink preferences alongside their stories. From overcoming stereotypes and discrimination to breaking free of loneliness by making new connections, Coffee Talk’s poignant narrative touches on a variety of relatable social issues, exploring themes of change, communication, and choice.
Coffee Talk Episode 2 captures the essence of what it’s like to chat with friends at a late-night café over a warm cup. Not a whole lot has changed between episodes, which is a good thing for returning players looking for the same heartfelt storytelling and diverse characters from the first installment. Although the sequel does not tread any new ground in terms of gameplay, the additional recipes and tales should be enough to satisfy both seasoned baristas and newcomers alike.
This review is based on a Steam digital code provided by the publisher. Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly is available Thursday, April 20, 2023 on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch for $14.99 USD.
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly
- Excellent soundtrack that is worth listening to outside the game
- Story is intriguing and heartfelt, touching on relatable modern problems
- Discovering new drinks is fun
- Post-game content adds to replayability
- Minor grammatical errors
- Wanted more opportunities to brew new drinks during campaign
Larryn Bell posted a new article, Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly review: Good to the last drop