Sitting out on Flume Rd, Alexander Organics is fast making a name for itself, supplying fresh, raw milk from its self-serve shop through a milk dispenser imported from Italy.
The couple behind the business, Jesiah and Ellen Alexander, are passionate about what they do, opening their shop on June 9. They have nine cows supplying the milk, which are kept separate from the rest of the farm’s herd due to MPI regulations, but they are looking to increase that number as the milk has been selling out, Jesiah explained.
“We didn’t want to get too big, too fast,” he added, “but we’ve loved the response so far”.
Ellen agreed, and with their only promotion happening on Facebook it’s been word of mouth that has seen people coming from around Cambridge to fill up their bottles with the unpasteurised milk.
There are two elements to the business’s appeal, the couple explained, the sustainability of using glass bottles (which are available from a vending machine in store, another Italian import) and the health and taste benefits people report from drinking the unadulterated milk.
The glass bottles are also a hit with customers for nostalgic reasons, with many recalling the good old days before plastic bottles. “And glass keeps the milk colder and fresher, compared with plastic,” Jesiah said. Plus, the bottles are chilled in the vending machine, so there’s no flashbacks to the warm milk that traumatised so many people who endured the tepid school milk of old.
The amount of milk going through the shop depends on the cows, of course, but there’s normally around 90 litres passing through each day, selling out on the weekend.
There is rigorous testing of the milk dispenser, with a hospital-grade alkaline and acid clean and 80degree hot wash through the whole line. “And once every 10 days we test for a range of pathogens and how clean the plant is,” Ellen said.
The shop is self-serving, so Jesiah and Ellen don’t really get to know their customers as well as they would if they staffed the shop, but they can always tell who’s who by the speed at which they pop in and out. “The regulars are in and out like a flash,” Jesiah laughed.
“We sometimes see people go in and out so quickly we wonder if they even got any,” Ellen said, adding that there’s an MPI form on the counter for people to fill in, which is really the only way to know exactly who the regulars are.
The organic farming methods used on the farm are also important to the couple, who are committed to what they call proactive rather than reactive farming.
“It’s an awesome philosophy that we’re really passionate about,” they said, adding that they concentrate their efforts around aiding their animals to have a strong immunity, avoiding the need for chemical intervention.
And if the success of the shop is anything to go by, their customers agree – draining their shop of every drop of the liquid gold on a regular basis.