Coolea Cheese is hand made on the mountain farm of Dick and Sinead Willems in Coolea County Cork. Nothing but 100% healthy fresh cow’s milk is used to produce this high quality cheese. Mild and creamy with a distinct flavour suitable for every occasion. Coolea cheese is available in Coolea Plain, Coolea Herbs and Garlic, Coolea with Cumin Seed and our most famous Coolea Matured.
Coolea Cheese is made from full cream cow’s milk. Nothing is taken out and nothing is added. By heating the milk and adding a starter (a special culture of lactic acid bacteria) and natural rennet (an enzyme from the stomach of a calf), the process is started. After about thirty minutes, the milk is converted into a curd cake. This is then cut into small pieces and liquid (whey) is drained off. The curds are washed and heated until they are ripe enough to be put into moulds. By pressing the curds for about six hours the cheese is made.
We have won several international awards, the most prestigious of which include Supreme Champion at IFEX Belfast 1999, Supreme Champion at the British Cheese Awards 2000, Best Modern British Cheese and Best Irish Cheese at the British Cheese Awards 2007 and 2010, Gold Award in Shop 2009, Best Matured Gouda in the World Cheese Awards 2008 and Supreme Champion at the Listowel Food Fair in 2008 and 2009.
Coolea Matured also won Irish Food Writer's Guild Food Award 2014. The Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards is one of the most enduring and respected events of its kind in Ireland. Crucial to the integrity of the awards is the nomination and judging process. No company or individual can enter themselves into the awards, but rather are nominated in a confidential process by IFWG members.
In 1979 Helene and Dick Willems decided to start making cheese from milk produced on their small farm in the beautiful mountains of Coolea, in West Cork. It all started as a hobby and soon developed into a small enterprise and the good name of "Coolea Cheese," was quickly known all over the country. In 1991 their son Dicky joined the crew and by 1993 became the main cheese maker. In 1999 both Helene and Dick retired. Dicky’s wife Sinead has now joined him to work together keeping up the high standard that was built before them.
Expanding our small enterprise, by 1987 a complete new cheese plant was built, including an air-conditioned storage system with a capacity of 15 tons and a production capacity of 25 tons. Varieties such as Coolea Matured, Herbs and Garlic, and Cumin Seed, were introduced in to our product range. Maintaining quality became our first priority, it still is.
Already 1983 brought our first national recognition, by winning The Best Irish Farmhouse Cheese Award in Clones, Co. Monaghan. Sales increased rapidly, local as well as national. The next step was distribution. Horgan’s Delicatessen in Mitchelstown and Traditional Cheese Company in Dublin were the answer to this problem. They have done a great job promoting our product nation-wide.
Many national and international awards followed, with the climax in 1990 when we won the first prize in the London International Cheese Show in 1991 when we were voted Supreme Champions at the Dublin Springshow, in 1997 we won 2 awards at The British Cheese Awards (Best Modern British Cheese and the Best Irish Cheese.) In 1999 Coolea was judged to be of gold standard at The British Cheese Awards and supreme champion at the IFEX in Belfast. And in 2000 Coolea won supreme champion at The British Cheese Awards after also winning best Irish and best modern British at the same venue. Again in 2007 Coolea won the Best Irish and Best Modern British awards at the British Cheese awards. We entered the World Cheese Awards in 2008 for the first time and won the best Mature Gouda category and also won Supreme Champion at the Listowel Food Fair.
Coolea Cheese is made from a very old Dutch Gouda recipe. Using high quality pasteurised cow’s milk, Coolea Cheese is ripened to a minimum of two months. Its texture is semi-hard to hard, and when matured up to 18 months its taste becomes sweet, almost like toffee! Coolea Cheese is now sold all over Ireland, the United Kingdom, Wales, Scotland and pretty much all over the world, thanks to our cheesemongers.
The product is special because of the personal care in producing and obtaining the milk and subsequently manufacturing the cheese. To keep up this high quality from raw material to finished product, Coolea Cheese can only grow slowly. But we can steer the production more towards the export market by producing more cheese for long maturation. Coolea matured is a product that can mature for at least 12 months and sometimes up to two years and still improve.
Neal's Yard Dairy, London, Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Galway and Dublin, Iain Mellis Cheesemongers, Edinburgh and Glasgow and several other smaller distributors export Coolea cheese all over the world to an ever-growing market. Our objective is to grow with our main outlets and to consolidate our long lasting relationships.
Coolea Farmhouse Cheese Limited