About Us

As you weave your way out of the sugarcane fields lining the slopes of Maui’s Haleakala volcano, you come upon the lush green pastures of the Surfing Goat Dairy, Hawaii’s only award-winning caprine operation.
Owned and operated by German expatriates Thomas and Eva Kafsack, Surfing Goat Dairy represents one of only two goat dairies in the state. It is located on 42 acres with almost two-thirds dedicated as pasture, giving the Dairy’s three bucks and over 100 does plenty of space to roam and forage. Found on the leeward side of the mountain, the Dairy is protected from Hawaii’s perennial trade winds, which comes as both a curse and a blessing. On one hand, the goats enjoy the resulting dry climate, with only an occasional winter rain storm; on the other hand, the costs for underground irrigation to maintain the grass on 25 acres of pasture can be substantial, especially during the summer. The pasture land of Buffel and
Kikuyu grass is mainly divided into four large plots-one night pasture with cozy shelters and one day pasture for each of their two herds-while several smaller parcels house bucks, kids, or does during their dry period. All the pastures are equipped with salt blocks and automatic waterers, which, as the Kafsacks learned quickly, save both time and water compared to water buckets. Looking for a new twist in their lives, the Kafsacks decided 12 years ago to move to Hawaii and practice the art of gourmet cheese production, a far cry from their previous occupations of leading a software company or teaching high school German. While Thomas went to work on the financial planning, Eva set out to learn the craft and secrets of cheese-making from Europe’s best. Working at and visiting dairies throughout Germany, Austria, and France allowed her to develop a mental image of the type of dairy that she wanted to run and cheeses she wanted to produce. An image that the two of them made reality over the past ten years. After finding a nearly ideal plot of land on

Maui, they turned 42 acres of brush land into verdant pastures with a spacious 10-stall barn for boarding horses and a 100-square-foot dairy, built completely to grade-A standards. “The dairy with its three working rooms (Milk Room, Ripening Room, Cheese Room) together with the adjacent retail shop, works perfectly for us,” Eva says. “No long distances to cover and everything is close at hand.” They brought with them a 12-slot automated milking and sanitizing system by Westphalia, as well as two 150-liter pasteurizers by Labor Buchrucker, an Austrian company, to form the technical backbone of the dairy. “Pasteurizers for our needs were impossible to find over here, but Labor Buchrucker was able to modify their products to meet U.S. federal and state requirements, such as air

heating coils and additional thermometer slots. “The remainder of the equipment, particularly ripening refrigerators, they were able to find on the island by converting restaurant surplus equipment.” Though Thomas sighs that “with an investment of over $500,000 it’ll probably take our lifetimes to pay off. Maui turned out to be quite expensive.” The Kafsacks still distinctly remember the excitement and stress of getting their

first goats. “We bought a herd from a dairy on an adjacent island that went out of business. We got all the goats on a truck and headed toward the harbor, but once we got to the barge we realized that the animal transport containers had neither feeders nor waterers, sending us looking for buckets in a frenzy. When all 34 dams, 11 yearlings and 3 bucks finally got to Maui unharmed, we were overwhelmed with joy. It took another couple of days until they got accustomed to the white three-rail vinyl fencing with hot wire on their new pastures, but they adapted quickly and a long and lasting friendship between us and the goats began.” After the initial experimental phase, during which the Kafsacks had to adapt many of their procedures to the Hawaiian climate and consumers, they eventually settled on producing a variety of cream cheeses and

soft cheeses. The Surfing Goat cream cheeses run the gamut of flavor from “Udderly Delicious” (plain) to exotic varieties like “Mandalay” (apple bananas and curry) or “Pirate’s Desire” (anchovies and capers). The Dairy also produces several soft cheeses, including soft cheese ripened under wax, in olive oil with garlic, or coated with mesquite ash, along with brine-ripened feta cheese. The Kafsacks started out selling their

cheeses at local farmers markets, but their product was soon picked up by a variety of retail locations, varying from wine stores to delis to locally owned grocery stores. Quickly thereafter, many of Maui’s gourmet restaurants voiced interest in using the Surfing Goat cheese on their menus, where it can now be found crumbled on salads, on pizzas, stuffed inside ravioli, or simply making an appearance on a dessert cheese platter. At first the Kafsacks found that milking their goats only once a day was more than adequate to cover the demand for their cheese, but as word spread it became apparent that after the next dry period they would have to switch to milking their does at night, as well as in the morning. Over the last few years they have selected several kids to keep to expand their herd by a significant amount. Their herd currently consists of a conglomeration of Saanens and Alpines. The majority of their kids are sired by their Alpine buck or their Saanen buck, however beginning next year they

will begin using a La Mancha buck as well. After finding that half their does were infected with caprine arthritis encephalitis or CAE, they implemented a stringent CAE prevention program with biannual testing and bottle rearing of all kids. This has allowed them to basically eliminate all CAE from their herd. With things finally settling in and increasing demand on and off the island, the Kafsacks feel their Dairy is surfing its way to a bright future, all four hooves on the nose.