The decaffeinated coffee is blended with organic valerian root, keeping the taste of coffee but without the usual effects of caffeinated beverages.
With a meeting with Walmart this month, Counting Sheep Coffee is gearing up for rapid growth, hoping it can meet demand from coffee-hungry consumers.
‘I’d love a cup of coffee but…’
Deland Jessop, Adam Cooper and Joseph Fernandes launched the business at Coffee Fest (in the US) in 2013. The novelty of the idea has earned them considerable media attention – featuring on Dragons’ Den in Canada, and with upcoming appearances on Extra TV and The Queen Latifah Show.
Jessop told BeverageDaily.com there is demand for the beverage: the challenge is getting out to retailers.
“When you really think about it, people have been asking for a product like this for a very long time,” he said. “How many times have you heard someone say "I'd love a cup of coffee but…”
“My wife loves coffee, but can't touch even decaf after 3pm otherwise she has difficulty sleeping. She is very sensitive to caffeine, but not an insomniac.
“Our coffee is decaffeinated using the Swiss water process (this removes 99.9% of the caffeine naturally without chemicals) so there is essentially no caffeine in the drink. With the added valerian root, you do feel a relaxed sensation when you are drinking this, similar to a sleepy tea.
“We have had great feedback from customers saying they have no problem at all sleeping or even great sleeps after drinking our coffee.”
Cracking ‘a great balance’ of coffee and valerian
FDA and Health Canada both allow valerian as a food ingredient to certain levels, and Jessop said the brand keeps well within these.
“Most people can't taste the valerian root as we blend it very well and the naturally bitter taste of the valerian is masked by the coffee,” he said.
“There are some people with sensitive pallets who can detect the taste of the valerian, and most of the people who can taste it still enjoy the coffee.
“If you put too much valerian in it will impact the taste negatively. We have a great balance now.”
“It is a food product, and anyone suffering from sleeping disorders such as insomnia should not look to this as a medicine or cure.”
There are two varieties: the original ‘Bedtime Blend / 40 Winks’ and an extra-valerian ‘Lights Out!’ version. The products are currently available in North America, with bags of ground coffee and single serve pods( K- Cups).
The brand will meet with Walmart at the end of the month.
“We hope to start off slow with them and pick a region where we are convinced we can be successful, and grow from there,” said Jessop. “Walmart would be a great client, but we want to ramp up in stages so we don't get overwhelmed, and we make sure we do a great job for them if they give us the chance.
“We have so many people contacting us on a daily basis asking where they can buy it: we really need help with retailers willing to carry us. It is a tough battle getting on shelves though.
“We are very close to a tipping point where I think this brand can explode. We have a lot going for us in terms of exposure and interest: we are gearing up for rapid growth.
“One of the key things we need to do is find strategic partners to help us. It is so hard to create a start-up company of this nature. If we get the right strategic partners, we could grow this extremely fast.”
As the brand’s slogan summarizes, Counting Sheep Coffee believes it can change the way people drink coffee: ‘the best way to start your day is now the best way to end it.”
But, as it adds, “Just don’t mix up your coffee in the morning.”
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