Today is National Coffee Day and we’re not only celebrating by grabbing our favorite cup of joe, but also recognizing amazing coffee houses around the country. We sat down with Mariel Benn, co-owner of Social House Coffee and wife to former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Arrelious Benn and talked about her and Arrelious’s new coffee store in the heart of the Avondale neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida.
What inspired you and Arrelious to start a business for cold and hot brews over other types of products or services?
We both are extremely into coffee. We’re both coffee lovers. I, in particular, grew up drinking coffee with my grandparents who are from the Dominican Republic. I understood that was part of our culture; it was a sign of hospitality and that’s where people gathered and had great conversations and just came together as a family. [Coffee] is something that we drank after every meal, so it became a part of my life and then when I met my husband, he was also a coffee enthusiast, so we both kind of just put our heads together and came up with what we thought was simulating what our passion was.
What made you choose your current location for the business?
With this location, we live maybe five minutes from our store. It’s a really nice, quaint historic neighborhood. It actually puts three neighborhoods together, so we’re in the center. We wanted something to contribute to the community, and for us, this was the best way to do it. We love coffee and we couldn’t find a local coffee that was just good and could bring the community together to have good conversations and just enjoy good coffee.
Can you describe the ideal customer experience at Social House Coffee?
Of course! It’s coming in, getting a great cup of coffee, like a cappuccino and then [joining] good conversations, for people to get to know each other and know their community and to network with each other and just become a family.
How has social media influenced the marketing of Social House Coffee?
It has a lot. We opened March 9th with the pandemic and that was literally two days before they announced the NBA was canceling everything. Social media was the only marketing we did in the beginning and it was people who were coming in, who enjoyed their experience and really enjoyed the coffee; they would post on their social media and [others] started reposting. The word got out and here we are six months and thriving through a pandemic, and so social media played a really big part and still does in how we get our marketing out.
Does SHC have a signature drink? If so, what is it?
We have The Gladiator which is our popular drink and what we’re known for. My husband played [in the NFL] and so the thought behind the name and that drink came from him having to put armor on every Sunday. He used to always take a couple of espresso shots to get out on the field, so he wanted something that was somewhat similar to getting your espresso shots and getting you wired for the day. The name he came up with is The Gladiator and this drink is our nitro cold brew with our house creme, which basically tastes like melted vanilla ice cream and then a shot of espresso on top. It’s a really good balance!
At Social Coffee House, the slogan is “Cheers the house,” welcoming everyone that comes to the store. Though social distancing is very much encouraged during this time, Social House Coffee is still a great place to grab a cup of coffee and meet others of the Jacksonville community. What are your favorite spots to stop for good coffee? Share your favorite coffee drinks with us!