Recently, about a dozen members of our staff toured the farms and facilities that produce the milk we use in our cafes. In an effort to better understand a product we rely on so much, we hoped to gain some insights into what affects the flavor and composition of our whole milk, skim milk, and half and half. Crystal Ball Farms is spread across 850 beautiful acres in Osceola, WI, and is home to around 100 cattle. Still a relatively small operation, Crystal Ball started as a family farm in the early 1990s, and has steadily grown since then. From the earliest days, the farm has worked to maintain a standard of honest, organic, sustainable production, working with a Japanese organic certification program at a time when such distinctions were virtually nonexistent in the United States.
During the tour, our staff was guided through each stage of the process, from bottling and pasteurization, to milking and housing. We learned that each cow, once mature, produces approximately 2200 gallons of milk each year, which goes through a pasteurization process that utilizes lower temperatures and longer times. This process prevents accidental homogenization, and there is a noticeable increase in sweetness. A balanced diet helps keep the cows healthy and the milk flavor as consistent as possible, in a part of the country that can be quite inconsistent, weather-wise. This is incredibly important to us, as we strive to serve a quality, reliable product, and all components must reflect that.
While Spyhouse makes up a fairly small percentage of Crystal Ball’s total production, we were made to feel like an important partner during our time at the facility. The staff was thoughtful, helpful, and very gracious, helping to make our experience informative and thoroughly enjoyable. It served as a inspiring reminder that the product we deliver wouldn’t be possible without the relationships we’ve developed and the hard work that goes into each stage of production.