Happy Canada Day ! Closed on Friday
Bottled milk is Back!
When it comes to one of the most recent new businesses to open in this region, ‘everything old is new again’! La Pinte, an artisanal milk bottling facility that has opened up shop in the former bowling alley in Ayer’s Cliff, has been getting a lot
of attention for its unique products: specialty milks which are sold in thick, attractive glass bottles.
Earlier in June, the three young owners of La Pinte, all raised in the Eastern Townships, spoke with the Stanstead Journal about their innovative and interesting company.
“Remi and I were raised together on the farm. We had fun running after the cows in the pasture,” said Pascal Valade, who grew up on his parent’s farm in Baldwin Mills. “I lived in Sherbrooke but my grandparents had a farm in Way’s Mills,” said Remi Ducharme. “I didn’t grow up on a farm; I was born and raised in Windsor. We lived near the cheese factory in Windsor and we ate their cheese all week,” said Dany Rouleau. “We belonged to three families where milk was always present on the table.”
Asked to describe their business, Remi explained: “We are a dairy plant with three main products: Jersey milk, organic cow’s milk and chocolate milk. We’ll probably be selling sheep’s milk too, in a few months, and eventually cream.”
The Jersey milk, all locally sourced as is their organic milk, comes with three different milk fat percentages, 1 %, 2 % and 3.8 % which, incidentally, is fantastic in cold coffees. “We work with Jersey cows because they’re pretty amazing. Their milk has more butterfat (around 5 %), and it contains more protein. Even the 1 % milk tastes thicker and richer because of that,” said Mr. Ducharme. “And this area is known for its Jersey cows,” added Mr. Rouleau. La Pinte’s chocolate milk comes in two varieties, either organic or Jersey. “We don’t put any artificial flavours in our chocolate milk. And when we have cream, it won’t have any additives like guar gum,” said Mr. Valade.
Another unique aspect of this small scale milk processing operation is its use of glass bottles. “The glass bottle is big for us,” said Remi, a Université de Sherbrooke Marketing graduate. “It’s better for the environment, we can re-use the same bottle twenty to thirty times, and it’s better for the taste. Pascal and I were raised on the farm and used to drink milk from the bulk tank. After that we could taste the plastic in store milk.”
To make sure people bring their ‘empties’ back to where they bought their milk, there is a $2 deposit fee per bottle. Hefty as it sounds, that $2 may not be high enough. “We really encourage people to bring the bottles back for their refund. Since we started, we’re not getting all the bottles back,” admitted Remi. That’s not hard to believe: the old-fashioned bottles, even with their modern lettering, seem to bring back memories of simpler, less complicated times. And, I’m just guessing, a bouquet of wild flowers would probably look pretty good in one.
As they were planning their business, the three friends visited small dairy plants in Ontario and New England. “It’s a small community of dairy businesses using glass bottles, so we work together,” said Remi. “There are only big players in milk in Quebec right now, so we think it could be more like the beer industry,” added Pascal.
The La Pinte owners, besides using only local milk and only selling locally, also like working with other local companies, selling some of their products in their dairy plant store- front along with their bottled milks. “We work with Ayer’s Cliff’s Boucherie Face de Boeuf, selling their products in our store while they sell our milk in theirs,” said Pascal. “The Laiterie de Coaticook sells our chocolate milk in their storefront. We don’t want to compete with local companies, and they know it. We’ll never make ice cream, but we sell Coaticook ice cream at our shop,” said Remi.
Asked if it’s a lot of work to get a business like La Pinte up and running, Remi laughed, saying: “Yes, we work pretty hard. I work full time with the company but Dany and Pascal work part-time here because they still work at other jobs. But it’s really great to see the business grow and to see people happy with the product.”
La Pinte’s fresh bottled milk can be found, besides at the dairy plant on Westmount Street, in Ayer’s Cliff, in stores in Ayer’s Cliff, Coaticook, Compton, Eastman, Magog and Sherbrooke
Sitting in the storefront of La Pinte’s dairy plant are (l. to r.): Dany Rouleau, Pascal Valade and Remi Ducharme. The tables in the store were made from the old bowling lanes.