PAX East 2023: Coffee Talk Episode 2 Is a Bold and Hearty Brew

Coffee is in my blood, a birthright and obsession that I share with my fellow rain-soaked Seattle lifers. In college, I worked at a 24-hour coffee shop in the University District; I’ll never forget those cold, wet midnight hours when regulars would shuffle in and order a cup of the usual. These gruff voices and half-smiles became characters in my memory, returning to mind in the many years since.

When I first played Coffee Talk, I felt swept into the past, transported back to that Seattle café from my youth. The rain, the music, the sounds of frothing milk and espresso shots—this game just hit differently. As I progressed through the story, I fell in love with the characters, mythological beings that mirrored the complexity of human relationships while disarming with humor exchanged in the perfect intimacy of strangers.

When I heard that the writers of Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly would be at PAX East 2023 and that a demo of the game would be available, I immediately booked an appointment. I’m happy to say the demo was as good as I’d expected. Right on brand for the character-driven cozy game I loved in the original. The heartfelt humor and authentic exploration of social issues return in the sequel.

Playing the demo of Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly at PAX East 2023.

But my interview with the lead writers will persist with me long after the game is over. The Coffee Talk team was kind, genuine, and thoughtful in a way that matched the masterpiece franchise they’ve created. The following is my exchange with Junkipatchi (lead writer of Coffee Talk 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly) and Sarah Johana (Head of Marketing, creator/writer of Lua and Baileys from Coffee Talk):

What can gamers expect from Coffee Talk Episode 2? Any major changes from the first game?

Junkipatchi: “Episode 2 will have more length of story, complexity of characters and choices. More branching stories based on conversations. There are multiple endings again.”

Lasby: “Are there true endings or ones that are the best to get?”

Junkipatchi: “No bad routes, just different experiences. And more lore. More lore.”

What inspired a second episode?

Junkipatchi: “The success of the first game. People wanted more from their favorite characters. It just felt right to continue the story. People wanted to know what happens next for the characters at the coffee shop.”

Lasby: “Yes, the characters feel like family. I want to know what happens to Freya!”

Junkipatchi: “Hibiscus and Butterfly was actually supposed to be DLC. Five new days. But the company liked the new story so much, they expanded the writing team to fill the whole game. Anna Winterstein, who is from London, helped write the side story, while I focused on the main game, which is now a full fourteen days like the first game.”

What has been the impact of the loss of Mohammad Fahmi and how has the team carried on his legacy with the game’s sequel?

Junkipatchi: “At first, we felt frozen. The death was sudden. It shocked the team. The process of making the second game was difficult, and I asked for more time because it was emotional. We wrote the game to honor him and what he meant to us.”

Johana: “The first game took place in Seattle because it’s the place Starbucks Coffee was founded. Fahmi always wanted the team to go to Seattle; we hope one day to visit there to remember and celebrate him.”

Lasby: “Was a love of coffee the source of his inspiration for the game?”

Johana: “Fahmi and I worked together in marketing. He always talked about wanting to design a game where you could just serve coffee and talk. We laughed about it, but then we made it together. It was fun. It was originally called Project Green Tea Latte. Fahmi doesn’t drink, but he wanted people to have that intimate experience of talking with a bartender about life.”

Lasby: “Did he write any intentions for the second game or any major narratives he intended to explore? It must have been difficult to carry on his vision for the sequel.”

Junkipatchi: “He actually had moved on to designing another game. But he did have a song list from the first game and two of those songs are in the second game.”

Coffee Talk tackled major social issues through the guise of mythical creatures. Any major themes for the sequel?

Junkipatchi: “The games both deal with issues in Indonesian culture right now. Interracial relationships, gender, romantic love.”

Lasby: “That’s definitely a strength of Coffee Talk, exploring these issues with mythical creatures instead of directly.”

Junkipatchi: “Yes, it gives more freedom, less conflict for people.”

Lasby: “Thank you so much for your time!”

Tell us what you think! Will you be playing Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly? Share your reactions in the comments below or join the conversation on Boss Rush Network’s Discord and Facebook.

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Source: Junkipatchi, Sarah Johana, Toge Productions

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