Sunshine resident Karen George on becoming “the coffee lady”

Photo: Joe Mastroianni

You’re never too old to learn new tricks.

A Sunshine resident of more than 30 years, Karen George tells Ben Cameron how she quit her job as a finance manager at Victoria University with a view to retiring.

But things changed one night on Facebook.


You and your husband, Colin, have been in Sunshine 31 years; what brought you here?

I’m originally from Maidstone.

It (Sunshine) was a central location and there was a charm about it that appealed to us.


What are those charms, for you?

Originally it stemmed from Hampshire Road – 31 years ago, it was like a country town.

It’s changed drastically now, but 31 years ago it was like everybody knew each other down the main street.


Still love it?

Seeing the cultural shift in the area has been fantastic.

It was sleepy old Sunshine, but then came the influx of the Vietnamese community and other cultural groups.

And now an influx of young families that want to be part of the diversity, I guess.

That’s what I love about Sunshine, the diversity.

The hardest part of living here is trying to decide what cuisine you feel like eating.

Early this year, I sat with some people from the other side of town at Pho Fever, and I think they were honestly surprised at how good we have it out here.

I think we are a hidden gem.


So you worked for more than 20 years with Vic Uni, but then left recently; what happened?

I was proud to see tertiary education made available to kids of the west, so many of our students were ‘first in family’ to attend university.

But I took a voluntary redundancy and was looking for some part-time work, and just saw this coffee van advertised on Inner West: Buy, Swap and Sell site on Facebook.

It just jumped out at me.

I didn’t care it wasn’t a huge profit-making business, it was just something I wanted to do.


But you’re busier than ever now?

Well it was meant to be a semi-retirement, part-time role, but it hasn’t turned into that.

We’re just about to expand and get another one on the road, there’s a real call out for good coffee in the west.


Which areas are you serving?

I start my day at Seddon railway station, around that area, Yarraville too.

A little bit of work in Sunshine, on the weekends in parks where families are.

I hope the coffee culture continues to grow in Sunshine.

I absolutely love my job; it’s great moving around the west, visiting businesses and schools, and chatting to different people every day.

People say: ‘I wish I had the guts to do what you did’, but basically I just bought myself a little job to keep myself busy. I became the coffee lady.


Do you have many hobbies outside coffee?

Not a lot because I’m working seven days a week … I like to walk the dog around Matthews Hill way, I like checking all the local restaurants.

I had a big involvement with Sunshine Football Club, but now my son has moved on … I was part of the junior football committee and a team manager.