Six questions for Vic Lynch, owner of Kwila Coffee Roasters


Vic Lynch is a Papua New Guinean cafe owner and barista who has built up a thriving business in Sydney, Australia, where PNG coffee is catching on.


Kwila’s Vic Lynch.

Q: How did your cafe Kwila begin?

A: It came to life during a time that my wife, Melissa Garcia, and I were trying to make a connection back in PNG. I was roasting coffee in Cairns and she was completing her honours degree  in environmental science and business. We were striving to create a platform that could encompass our combined passion for travel, conservation and hospitality as well as our desire to connect Australians with PNG. We almost started a tourism venture in PNG, but circumstances brought us to Sydney and this coffee shop, Kwila, became that platform.

Q: Where does the name Kwila come from?

A: It is named after a Papua New Guinean tree, which is a durable and termite-resistant wood, making it a highly valued material for flooring. At our cafe, the tables and chairs are made from recycled kwila. Using the name Kwila is a recognition of the Pacific region we call home—the cultures, coffees and landscapes within it. The kwila timber was brought back from the family home in Madang where it was sustainably felled using a walkabout sawmill. We like to think of it as an infusion of PNG energy into the space.

‘We have been overwhelmed by customer response to not only our connection to PNG, but to the quality of PNG coffee we are delivering.’

Q: What’s special about Kwila?

A: Well, we began Kwila as a small hole-in-the-wall cafe, using ethically sourced quality roasted coffee from PNG, Costa Rica, Brazil, Ethiopia and Colombia. We are now small-batch coffee roasters. We deal directly with PNG growers, so we bring in green coffee beans, which we source ourselves. We also offer a limited vegetarian menu of muesli, avocado smash, house-made muffins and vegan pies.

Q: How have Sydneysiders taken to the PNG connection?

A: We have been overwhelmed by customer response to not only our connection to PNG, but to the quality of PNG coffee we are delivering. This is an exciting time for PNG specialty coffee.

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Q Where did you grow up in PNG?

A: My Australian father came to PNG as a kiap (patrol officer) in the 1960s. I was born in Kundiawa in Simbu Province, and my mother is from Kerema, the capital of Gulf Province. My parents met in Mount Hagen. I was educated at Goroka International School until Year 8 and finished my high school years on the Gold Coast. My first job was as a barista at a hotel in Sydney where  I met Melissa, who is half-Colombian.

Q: Is running a business in Sydney demanding?

A: It’s demanding and challenging. But Sydney is a multi-faceted city, with a great diversity of people and infectious energy. We like to think that we’re making a positive contribution to the city’s inner-city landscape. Maintaining that perspective helps face the demands of building a small business. I’m definitely proud to have the business here.  It’s a great opportunity and a platform to share my heritage.

This interview was first published in the July-August edition of Paradise, the in-flight magazine of Air Niugini. 


  1. This is really a great guide for for coffee roasters. We are a coffee bean roasters from Sydney.

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