People usually drink coffee to stay alert, but a new brand is promising to help you do exactly the opposite.
Vancouver-based Counting Sheep Coffee, which is 99.9per cent caffeine-free, contains a powdered form of valerian, an herb with sedative properties commonly used to treat sleep disorders.
The drink is already available as K-cups and ground coffee in Canada and select U.S. stores, and it will likely hit the mainstream after the company meets with Walmart next month.
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Counting Sheep co-founder Deland Jessop says he came up with the idea for a coffee that causes drowsiness after his coffee-loving wife complained that she couldn’t have a cup after 3pm without it keeping her awake all night.
So he teamed up with a coffee roaster in Newark, New Jersey, and created Counting Sheep.
To remove the caffeine, the beans undergo a chemical-free decaffeination called the Swiss Water process, which involves counter-current extraction and carbon-filtering.
Counting Sheep comes in two dosages – 40 Winks, which contains 176mg of valerian powder per cup, and the stronger Lights Out, which has 235mg – the maximum dosage for it to be considered a food product.
In comparison, valerian pills typically contain between 450mg and 1,200mg per dose.
The company is billing Counting Sheep as a low-calorie alternative to that nightly glass of wine that many adults have to wind down after a long day.
‘The perfect way to start your day is now the perfect way to end it,’ reads a tagline on the website.
Mr Jessop told the Boston Globe: ‘The ritual of having a cup of coffee is a very relaxing ritual. It’s just a nice warm beverage you want to sit and sip… With the valerian root added, it just kind of adds to it.’
While he claims that most drinkers don’t detect the valerian taste, Boston Globe writer Matt Viser says it had a bitter flavor, which is not uncommon in decaf coffee.
The smell, however, ‘was odd, almost like incense,’ he writes. ‘For me, not having the rich aroma of fresh coffee took away a lot of the appeal.’
An 18-pack of Lights Out coffee pods costs $14.99 on Amazon, and a case of 12 bags of 12oz ground coffee costs $142.95.
Counting Sheep may sound like a dream come true for coffee lovers who have trouble sleeping, but doctors advise drinkers to exercise caution if they find themselves dependent on it to sleep.
‘[If] you are requiring it to sleep at night, there is probably a better solution out there,’ W Christopher Winter, a sleep medicine expert at Charlottesville Neurology & Sleep Medicine in Virginia, told Today.com.
And while some form of valeria has been used for centuries to treat insomnia, scientific evidence of its effectiveness remains inconclusive.