Coffee Lovers Get a Shot of “Soul” From Entrepreneurs

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The NeoSoul Trading Company, a young start-up in Raleigh, North Carolina, has created a line of specialty coffees that are receiving high marks from industry experts.

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People want to buy products from companies that represent who they are and what they value. We feel confident we can speak directly to urban professionals because that’s who we are.

Companies who covet the highly sought-after urban professional demographic now have a new partner in Raleigh-based NeoSoul Trading Company. The brainchild of entrepreneurs Leroy Brown and Trey Steele, NeoSoul produces and distributes custom-blended coffees and other products that fulfill the mission of the company: helping people live a soulful life.

“When we sat down to write the business plan, our first objective wasn’t to build a better coffee,” said Brown, company president. “It was to create products and services to help people live a soulful life. Coffee became a natural fit for us because it is such a soulful part of most people’s day.”

Although Brown and Steele followed the typical product development route, they added a twist with their market research. “We’ve participated in traditional market research where you sit on the other side of the glass while someone talks about your product or offers samples,” said Steele, co-founder and vice president of Marketing. “But young urban professionals don’t respond to that. They want to get to know you and your products on a personal level. We knew that this research needed to be different.”

Steele orchestrated tasting events during which he and Brown sat in the same room as the research participants. “Our belief was that if we could lay out our vision of the company and discuss the unmet needs in the coffee industry face to face with focus groups, participants would become more excited and have greater buy-in regarding helping us create great tasting blends, ” explained Steele.

The payoff for taking a more nontraditional approach to marketing research was realized only two months after the company officially launched its blends when Ken Davids, regarded by many as a leading authority on coffee, awarded NeoSoul’s Ascension blend an outstanding rating. Coffee Review, founded by Davids in 1997, provides a standardized approach to coffee tasting similar to that used in the wine industry.

Ascension underwent a fully blinded tasting, ensuring an unbiased review. Davids described Ascension as “...a striking coffee with exotic aromas, roasty and complex but impressively smooth.”

With an industry expert’s seal of approval, the company began meeting with coffee shops, grocery chains, and hotels. Not surprisingly, it has had the most success in placing its products in stores that cater to the young, urban professional demographic.

In addition to coffee, the company offers custom, hand-painted art from the Dominican Republic as well as digital music downloads from emerging NeoSoul artists.

Brown talked about what he and Steele see as the long-term vision for NeoSoul. “We want to be a catalyst for what our generation is poised to do,” he explained. “People want to buy products from companies that represent who they are and what they value. We feel confident we can speak directly to urban professionals because that’s who we are.”

‘Live a soulful life’ is the mantra of The NeoSoul Trading Company, a lifestyle company based in Raleigh, N.C. Our product family includes custom blended coffee, original hand-painted art, and more. Visit us online at


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Troy McNish
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