After graduating from the University of Miami in 1965, he worked in other industries and then rejoined the business, Rowland Coffee Roasters, in 1973. Over the years, Souto, his father, and two brothers grew the company, which included the brands Cafe Bustelo and Cafe Pilon, into a company whose sales surpassed $110m in 2010.
In 2011, Souto and his siblings sold the brands and company operations to JM Smucker for $360m. “A few months later,” Souto says, “was when I decided to look for a house”.
At first, Souto thought he might be able to buy a house and renovate it, but it became increasingly clear to him that everything he saw wasn’t, for one reason or another, up to snuff. He began to look around for lots he liked containing houses he could tear down.
“I was like, ‘You know, I’ve never built a house in my life,’” Souto says. “I talked to some people who said ‘Don’t do it.’ But then others told me it was a great experience, so I decided to go for it.”
He bought a structure he describes as “modern, a kind of 1980s-type house”, on a lot that was a little more than an acre in Coral Gables, Florida, and enlisted architect Ramon Pacheco, known for his “Mediterranean style” oceanfront homes, to draw up plans. The final design had seven beds, eight full baths, and four partial baths, spread across 12 862 square feet.
The plans were submitted for approval to the Coral Gables planning board in late 2011; a little more than two years later, Souto moved in.
Now, four years later, he’s putting it on the market, listing it with Dennis Carvajal of One Sotheby’s International Realty, for $23.9m. “Because I’m single, I really don’t need this amount of space,” Souto says. “I built it with the idea that I’d stay for a number of years, and then maybe do the same thing again, or just buy another house.”
In the time that Souto has lived in the home, he’s made it— thanks to his specifications during the design stage - an extension of his own interests.
He likes fish, for instance, and thus set up an 800-gallon, saltwater fish tank that stretches from the living room to the exterior. There’s also an outdoor koi pond. “They’ve grown to about four-and-a-half-feet long,” he says. “They have the perfect life, and they just grow and grow.”
The house has multiple interior touches that were Souto’s ideas, including a series of striking marble-and-onyx panels in various rooms. There’s also a home theatre (with built-in bar), a 2 500-bottle wine cellar, an elevator, sauna, gym, heated saline pool, and a series of indoor/outdoor spaces, including a gazebo overlooking Biscayne Bay.
The property is set on the corner of the Coral Gables waterway, which leads out to the bay. Souto can sit by the pool “and watch the boats going back and forth”, he says. “You feel like you’re in a vibrant community.”
This is especially true if, like Soto, you also have a yacht. The property has a 140-foot dock. Potential owners will be relieved to learn that, like Soto, they can hop on a boat and head out to the open ocean at a moment’s notice. “My boat is parked behind the house,” he says. “That’s a great advantage.”
Speaking of that ocean, Soto, who’s lived in the Miami area for more than 50 years and says “hurricanes have always been part of our life”, notes that the house is built to withstand extreme weather events that might concern skittish out-of-town buyers.
After Hurricane Harvey, he says, “there was a little bit of wind damage in the landscaping, but nothing major: You could come to my house two weeks later and not know it had happened”. He did lose his dock (as did a number of houses in the area), but “that was the only damage”, he says.
The house’s windows are made from hurricane-resistant glass, and the home is elevated more than 12 feet above sea level. Even that indoor/outdoor fish tank is built to withstand a Category 5 storm.
Hurricanes, Souto says, “are a predictable phenomenon. It’s not like an earthquake, when you don’t know it’s going to hit. With a hurricane, you have a lot of time to prepare.”
Marble accents appear throughout the house. (Photographer: Andy Frame)
Much as he loves his dream home, Souto says it’s time to move on. “The time is good for me,” he says. “I do more travelling than I did in the past, and I like to go boating in the Caribbean for extended periods of time.”
Souto has already begun to look for another, smaller home. “But I’m running into the same situation again,” he says. “I can’t find all the things I want. I’m not saying that I’ll build another one, but the option is always there.”