May 19, 2014

Counting Sheep Coffee Lights Out! Single Cups Review

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When you think of coffee, you usually associate it with something that keeps you awake, right? What if we were to tell you that there’s coffee which can put you to sleep? Before you think we’ve finally gone off the deep end, hear us out. We recently found out about a new startup company named Counting Sheep Coffee. They’re based out of Vancouver BC in Canada and they’ve created the world’s first sleep aid coffee. You’re familiar with the dozens of sleep aid teas on the market and there’s even Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Herbal Tea K-Cups & Vue Packs which have been out for years. We’ve never seen (until now) a coffee which supposedly does the same trick. The company recently gained fame when they appeared on Dragon’s Den* (the Canadian predecessor to ABC’s Shark Tank). We were a bit surprised to learn that the deal didn’t close* after the show aired, but it doesn’t seem to have hindered sales since our local Bed Bath & Beyond was almost sold-out when we visited.

So how exactly does this work? The company decided to blend Swiss Water Decaf coffee with all-natural organic Valerian Root which is a natural form of sedative which has a long history of being used to help people who had trouble falling asleep. It stretches as far back as the days of ancient Greece & Rome and the extract from the plant/root is currently used to treat a wide variety of other ailments. As with anything medicinal, we strongly encourage you to look-up the potential side-effects and interactions before you give these Single Cups a try. It’s always better to be safe and we always encourage safety for our readers anytime we test something which may have potential interactions or adverse/allergic reactions. 

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Once you’ve checked out the links above and determine you’re ok to try this, the coffee is available in 2 intensities and in both ground & Single Cup format. The lighter Bedtime Blend is intended to lull you into a gentle sleep while the stronger Lights Out! flavor is both stronger in roast intensity and has more of the active Valerian Root ingredient which gives an extra nudge for those who have a bit more trouble falling asleep. Since we’ve been having a few restless nights this past week, we decided to go for broke and opted for the stronger Lights Out! version. We would also like to note that this is the first time we’ve tried Valerian Root and had no idea what to expect.

Brewing these Single Cups on the recommended 8oz setting resulted in light aromas of smoky hickory blended with mild notes of molasses. We also detected a rather unique aroma which we’ve never experienced before and can only guess that it was the Valerian Root which had sort of a nutty/chicory scent to it. Together it made for a somewhat strange combo. It smelled more like a lighter dark roast tinged with herbal/floral ingredients more than anything else.

Flavor was also fairly unique as you get a sweet floral note up front quickly followed by the more common oily notes of hickory and dark chocolate normally associated with dark roasts. We also got notes of the Valerian Root’s nutty/bitter characteristics as well. This made for a coffee unlike anything we’ve had before and is really difficult to describe. We can see how this new taste might be off-putting for some as we thought it was rather weird at first but it soon yielded to the coffee notes and had us thinking of a dark roast spiked with some form of herbal extract. Once we got that notion in our minds, we thought this was rather decent for a dark roast decaf. 

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Acidity is fairly well-balanced given the odd blending of the coffee & herbal ingredients and kept things at an even pace throughout without adding to the existing bitterness. Body yielded nice sunburst shades of amber, orange & red which made for a nice visual presentation. Mouth feel seemed smooth although a bit on the lighter side while finish was a bit dry with slight astringency followed by more of the nutty Valerian Root flavors in the aftertaste.

  • Aroma – 9 – Light aromas of smoky hickory blended with mild notes of molasses as we detected a rather unique floral/herbal & nutty aroma underneath which we can only guess was the Valerian Root ingredients. 
  • Acidity – 9 – Fairly well-balanced despite the unique blending of coffee & herbal ingredients. Kept things in check without adding to the existing bitterness.  
  • Body – 9 – Vibrant sunburst shades of amber, orange & red made for nice visual presentation.
  • Flavor – 8 – A fairly unique mix of sweet floral notes up front followed by the more familiar smoky hickory & dark chocolate notes of a dark roast underneath. We also got a taste of the Valerian Root’s odd herbal/nutty notes as well which might be off-putting for some people until they get used to it.
  • Mouth Feel – 9 – Smooth throughout although a bit on the lighter side while finish was a bit dry with some mild astringency to it. More of the herbal/nutty notes of the Valerian Root was present in the aftertaste.
  • Coffee Drinker – Since this is a specialty product, we have a hard time labelling it as a coffee, but this is suited best for casual dark roast fans who have occasional trouble falling asleep at night. If you can get over the unique taste of the Valerian Root ingredients and usually like dark roast decafs, you’ll likely enjoy this.
  • Does It Work? - Yes, it most certainly does! We’re sampling another cup while writing this review in order to remember the tasting notes and we’re already dozing-off with only half a cup consumed at this point. Unless you’ve got a really bad case of insomnia or are usually immune to sedatives, we doubt you’ll have any problems falling asleep after using this product.

Overall Rating: 94 – Exceptional (and very functional)

We’ve got to admit we were rather skeptical and didn’t expect this coffee or its ingredients could make us drowsy but were surprised to find ourselves starting to doze off within 15-30 minutes after drinking an 8oz cup, so yes… this REALLY WORKS! As a matter of fact, we found this coffee to be A LOT more effective at helping us sleep than the aforementioned tea alternatives and we think that anyone except extreme insomniacs should have no problem falling asleep after they drink a cup of this stuff. 

Sure, the taste is a bit odd and seemed rather bitter/strange at first, but we slowly started getting used to it and hey, we think people who have trouble sleeping won’t mind the taste if this actually helps them fall asleep each night. We’re not sure what the future holds for Counting Sheep Coffee but we can’t help but wonder why Keurig didn’t think of this first and wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they opted to buy-out the company in a few years (providing sales continue to do well) and rebrand this coffee somehow. If not, we hope Counting Sheep Coffee helps us count sheep in our dreams for many years to come.

Counting Sheep Coffee Lights Out! Single Cups work in all Keurig K-Cup brewers and are available in 18-packs for $14.99 CAD at Bed Bath & Beyond retail stores and BedBathAndBeyond.ca in Canada. These Single Cups are also available in USA for $13.99 USD per 18-pack at Amazon.com. These K-Cups will work in all K-Cup Brewers. Please also note that Single Cups will NOT work with Keurig Vue brewers.

A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review. We would also like to note that we purchased a box of these Single Cups on our own for the purpose of this review.

* Please note that some of these videos are hosted on Canadian sites and therefore may be geo-blocked when viewed from other countries.

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Posted by Jay Brewer at May 19, 2014 7:26 AM

Recent Comments

I was just made aware of this review by a customer making a purchase. We are so happy you enjoyed the coffee and wanted to thank you for the article. As an entrepreneurial start-up the support is greatly appreciated. It is very rewarding getting the positive posts, tweets and likes from people who can now enjoy a coffee with dessert in the evening or just before bed. All the best.


Posted by: Deland Jessop at May 27, 2014 1:07 PM
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