Some people like coffee. Some people love coffee. And some people need coffee.
But for former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Arrelious Benn and his wife, Mariel, coffee is a way of life.
Mariel grew up in the Dominican Republic, where the coffee is as robust as the people making it. Arrelious knew that when he retired from football, he wanted to put his Master of Business Administration degree to use and give back to the Jacksonville community that ended up being the final leg of his eight-year NFL journey.
Put them together and Social House Coffee opened its doors in February 2020 — and it shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
“I knew I can’t play football forever,” Benn said in the lead up to Social House Coffee’s grand opening. “I was always trying to learn outside of my craft with football. And I knew I wanted to open up a business.”
Full disclosure: I’m writing this from Social House Coffee, drinking a warm latte and the high is 93 degrees. Is drinking a cup of coffee on a hot, Jacksonville day usually a good idea? No, friend, it is not. And this beverage is still steaming 15 minutes after I got it to my table.
But it’s good coffee, y’all. Very good. A lot of coffee shops throw the word “premium” around when describing what they offer. Social House Coffee earned it.
When you enter, don’t expect your typical big chain coffee experience. The beans are ethically sourced. The coffee is roasted in small batches right here in Florida. The owners live in the neighborhood. And while there are plenty of non-coffee drinks to enjoy like hot chocolate or chai tea lattes, don’t expect them to serve you anything where you can’t taste the roasted coffee flavor.
It all adds up to a different experience at Social House Coffee than what you might be used to or expect. They value community and comfortability in their 700-square foot space. It’s a place to connect with friends or unwind in the middle of a busy day. Arrelious and Mariel see themselves as people serving the city they live in, not the other way around, and they want their first location in the heart of Avondale to be a springboard to doing more in Jacksonville.
“It doesn’t just stop at coffee,” Benn said. “Coffee is going to be something that’s going to help us engage in the community as well.”
While it’s always encouraging when a former Jaguars player wants to use their platform and business to grow their impact in the Jacksonville community, the line of people waiting for a quality cup of coffee and the groups of friends laughing outside as they sip their drinks tells me they’ve already accomplished their mission of making this corner of Duval a little bit better than before they arrived.
Learn more about Social House Coffee and read Arrelious and Mariel Benn’s story at SocialHouse.co.