A couple have converted three disused London phone booths into mini cafes, serving takeaway coffees, pastries and ice-cream to Londoners after lockdown.

Couple Loreinis Hernandez and Sean Rafferty run Amar Cafe, three telephone booths in London (two in Chiswick and one in Greenwich Market Village) that have been converted into mini takeaway coffee kiosks. They opened for business in March and had been in operation for just a week before they were forced to close when the city went into lockdown.

"We were closed for six weeks," Lorenis told Lonely Planet. "It was a very worrying time and we haven't still recovered from that loss but we are optimistic things are going to get better for everyone."

Britain's red phone boxes, voted the best British design of all time in 2015, used to be found on every high street but few remain operational today. Some have been repurposed into temporary art galleries, book shops and newspaper stands through a rent partnership with businesses like the Red Kiosk Company, and a small percentage even contain life-saving defibrillators. But some remain in a pretty dilapidated state, much like the kiosks Sean and Lorenis got their hands on, which were covered in graffiti and broken glass before they preserved them into something useful for the community.

Amar Cafe.jpg
The phone boxes have adequate space for their needs ©Amar Cafe

Now as daily life slowly returns to London, they've found that the little cafes can safely meet the needs of those who want their caffeine fix without breaking social distancing rules.

"We believe that our business model is the safest way for people to feel a bit of normality in these times," said Lorenis. "The community has been very welcoming and we are so grateful for their immense support. At the beginning [customers] tried our coffees as a novelty thing, and to support our enterprise but after that they kept coming back because of the quality of our coffees."

A takeaway coffee cup is held up against a blue sky backdrop
Amar Cafe's coffee is ethically sourced and fully traceable ©Amar Cafe

Amar Cafe serves ethically sourced coffee from Colombia, where Lorenis is from, and the couple work directly with farmers to guarantee traceability. Their coffee is roasted in small batches every week and sold in Amar Cafe and online.

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