After many years unused in a dark and dusty barn, Emily Stewart’s old horsebox has been given a new lease of life.

It is now out and about, and on a daily basis is filled with the aroma of freshly roasted speciality coffee.

Take a stroll down to the Museum of Natural History in Parks Road in Oxford and you will find the converted horsebox, now one of the key trading posts for Horsebox Coffee Company.

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It has been carefully converted to house the coffee machines and baristas and is Mrs Stewart’s pride and joy.

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While Oxford has many cafes serving incredible cups of coffee, not many are served from such unusual locations.

Mother-of-three Mrs Stewart, from Brightwell-cum-Sotwell near Wallingford, said the horsebox coffee shop, contained in the vintage model built in 1976, is attracting a loyal following.

She said: “After spending years roaming around, we now really feel part of the Oxford community.

“We roast our own coffee on the farm in Brightwell and outside the museum we have an opportunity to showcase our coffee.

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“We also sell our coffee at Harcourt Arboretum in Nuneham Courtenay - there’s a good uptake but nothing compared to outside the museum.”

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After college Mrs Stewart worked in London helping to set up a café chain.

She then decided to pursue her passion for speciality coffee as a barista and trainer.

When she moved back to Oxfordshire in 2008 to bring up her family a mobile speciality coffee shop seemed the ideal way to put the family’s beloved horsebox to good use.

The pitch outside the museum has a large captive audience, according to Mrs Stewart.

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She added: “Keble College is nearby, then you have museum staff and visitors and tourists.

“During the lockdowns the university parks were very busy and when restrictions were eased.

“The horsebox became a destination and a lot of those customers have remained loyal.”

The enterprise was launched in 2015 and is now run by Mrs Stewart herself and a small team of staff.

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As well as the museum and Harcourt Arboretum, the company also visits festivals.

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Mrs Stewart says on the company’s website: “We’ve taken the horsebox to some horsey events but also food festivals, farmers markets, family fun days, open farm days, music festivals and more.

“It has happily opened its hatch in fields, parks and town centres, at stately homes, a castle, a railway station and even in a shopping centre.

“I have since spotted many a horsebox left redundant, rotting away in a field.”

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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