Kelly Van Liere
It is all too easy to envy those small American towns with their local dairy farms and fresh milk in glass bottles. But for Arizonans, this mentality has now run its course thanks to Danzeisen Dairy in Laveen Village.
For three generations, the Danzeisen family has operated their dairy farm and sold their milk to the larger distribution companies. However, a few years ago, the dairy’s owner, Kevin Danzeisen, decided the company needed a change in direction.
“We weren’t going to make it as a farm if we kept doing things the same way,” Kevin said.
Then an idea took root. Why not start selling his cow’s milk to the local community? The idea germinated as Kevin began to think about his neighbors. They saw his cows every day but were buying milk from the store with no knowledge of where it came from or the process by which it was farmed.
“I never understood why people didn’t like milk,” he said, “until I realized that they weren’t drinking the same milk that I had drunk my whole life.”
From the time of Kevin’s epiphany, it took two full years before the small dairy was able to fill their first bottle for sale. While the business gained new walls and bought new machinery, the Danzeisen family worked closely with their dairy group to develop the crowd-pleasing flavors they offer today; in addition to the standard white milks, the dairy offers a variety of flavors including chocolate, strawberry, Arizona orange, mocha, root beer, and eggnog. Kevin’s personal favorite is the chocolate milk.
“To me, if you don’t have a good chocolate milk, you don’t have good milk,” he said.
The chocolate milk is delicious, as are all of the other flavors. The full-bodied and flavorful milk lingers in the mouth with a silky smooth consistency. One sip is never enough and neither is one whole glass. That is why Danzeisen customers are invited to the creamery and given free reign to sample the delicious array of milk products.
The same quality milk offered at the creamery is also available in grocery stores throughout the state. The keys to the milk’s “farm fresh” taste are the old machinery and glass bottles. At the creamery, the machinery used to process the milk dates back to the 1930s and 1940s. The centrifuge that separates the milk from the cream is a bit old-fashioned, but the cold process preserves the vitamins and minerals that are naturally in the stored the milk. Unlike the larger milk production companies, the Danzeisen Dairy does not extrude plastic bottles right before pouring the milk in them; they instead use glass bottles because the material is nonporous, an important property that helps maintain the milk’s quality and taste.
The milk is the prized product of the farm, but Kevin’s vision far exceeds milk as a tangible product; he wants the public to know more about the entire process that happens behind the scenes. As much as he loves the milk, he loves his cows too. He is passionate about educating the public about his farm, a task that has proven to be very challenging.
Due to city restrictions, the farm and the creamery do not share the same location. Kevin plans to navigate this obstacle by “bringing the farm to the schools.” It is far easier for him to transport a few cows and calves to the school to show the students the process rather than scheduling a field trip.
Aside from these schools visits, Kevin has other plans to give customers and members of the community access to his dairy’s amazing products. At the creamery, a room has been designated to the hopeful development of a play café – a place where children can play while their parents enjoy coffee. Kevin wants to fill the room with tractors and toys and cover the walls with information about the milk process. Tours of the creamery are also a topic of discussion and the plans to offer these to the public are already in progress.
For now, consumers can enjoy this delicious drink, knowing that with every taste, Phoenix becomes the envy of towns and cities across America.
Photos by Summer Montoya