Surfing Goat Dairy
3651 Omaopio Road, Kula
I’ve never given much thought to the production of goat cheese. Luckily I don’t have to. Thomas and Eva Kafsack, who own Surfing Goat Dairy in Kula—one of Maui’s top agri-tourist destinations—already have.
What I found after an afternoon at the dairy is that it’s a very involved process that took them years to research and refine. Installing the equipment and animals required a $500,000 initial investment, and the farm continues to evolve. The Kafsacks’ most recent investments: installing irrigation to 40 acres due to the drought situation, and photovoltaic panels to solar power the farm.
When you take their tour you get a taste for all the work that goes into their delicious and award-winning cheese and chocolate. The farm has lots of feathers in their goat herding caps, with 18 awards from the American Cheese Society and the American Dairy Goat Association. After you check in at the front, farm staff hands you a paper bag with some hay.
That’s right: it’s time to feed some goats.
I happen to love livestock, and the personalities of goats are quirky as the flavors of their cheese. The goats here are Saanens, Alpines and La Mancha. You will meet some of the dams and yearlings, the moms and tweens, basically. They mob you at the fence because your bag contains the equivalent of goat candy, the sweet, coveted hay they can’t wait for you to dish out.
Next you get to the milking area, and your guide explains the milking schedule, which is all very technical. I happened to get distracted by the nearby kitchen window where I watched cheese-makers hard at work. Trays of white biscuit-shaped cheeses lined up on their way to becoming one of the delicious items sold at the farm (and shops and restaurants island-wide).
The demand for their cheese has grown quickly, about 20 percent every year. Their original idea was actually not a goat dairy, but a bed and breakfast. After seeing legal snags with that plan, they decided to focus on goats. They launched their Surfing Goat Dairy Chevre at the 2002 Ulupalakua Ag Fest and history was made. Chefs began to ask the Kafsacks to create specific flavors, and retail outlets wanted their made on Maui products too.
There are primarily three types of cheese created here: Chevre, a creamy goat cheese; Quark, a European specialty that has a consistency between yogurt and cream cheese; and Aged cheeses, which are all gourmet. They use no pesticides or herbicides on the farm, and inject no hormones, steroids or antibiotics into the goats.
Their newest addition, the goat cheese truffles, are rich and delicious, and apparently boast health benefits, too. Goat’s milk is leaner than cow’s milk, with 30 percent less calories, 45 percent less fat and 42 percent less cholesterol. Their cutting edge chocolate equipment tastes like its paying off.
After learning all about their state-of-the-art milking system, and how the dams are more than humanely treated—they are downright loved and worshipped because goat’s milk is gold here—you get down to the nitty gritty of the tour: the tasting of cheese and chocolate. The gift shop is a little nook, but plenty of cheese and truffles flows through these doors in a variety of incredible flavors. If you are not sure what kind of cheese you might want to take home, get the flight, which is a satisfying combination of chocolate and about a dozen different kinds cheeses.
The Kafsacks have overcome a lot of hurdles in the past 12 years, but now it looks like they’re enjoying smooth sailing on seas of cheese. Their 42 acres of brush land located off of Omaopio Road on the slopes of Haleakala are a veritable goat oasis—one of Maui’s true gems.
Got a hot food scoop? Contact Jen Russo at 808-280-3286 or fax to 808-244-0446.