Kopanisti is made the traditional way by dozens of farmers, who often sell it to individuals or to little grocery stores. However, the island’s only authorized kopanisti cheese maker is the Koukas family who have opened an ultramodern plant at Palaiokastro in Ano Mera, where they use the milk from their herd of cows which is the largest (130 animals) in the Cyclades. Up to 2014 a significant amount of their velvety milk went to Tinos to produce Tinos graviera, but since then the family has reduced their orders since demand for kopanisti has risen so much.
When you visit the Koukas “Mykonos Dairy Factory” at Palaiokastro, you’ll meet the soul of the place, Thodoris, a young man born and brought up on Mykonos. He’s a modest fellow with a cheese-making diploma from the well known school in Ioannina and his parents, Markos and Irini Koukas, are the pillars of the enterprise. In their new accredited cheese plant – where PDO Mykonos kopanisti is produced among other cheeses – you will get an idea of how the ‘new’ enters the modern era while rooted firmly in tradition.
This strictly controlled hygiene from the first processing of the milk to the ultimate stage – before packaging the cheese – the conscientious adherence to European regulations and specifications, combined with the experience gained in producing kopanisti the traditional way over the years distinguish the Mykonos Dairy Factory from others and make it ready to conquer markets beyond the island. Today the plant supplies kopanisti and its other products to several shops all over the country; in fact, it recently joined the chain of Vassilopoulos supermarkets.
Besides kopanisti, the Mykonos Dairy Factory makes tyrovolia, a fresh cow’s cheese, xinotyri (sour cheese), and yogurt produced solely from milk and cultures without any added preservatives, strained in the traditional way, a practice that more and more dairy companies are abandoning.