Jimmy Butler doesn’t do anything half-ass. So once he perfects his barista skills know that he’s going to be extremely obnoxious about it and there will be no apologies.
“Whenever I get this latte art thing figured, oh my God,” Butler tells us over the phone. “Somebody’s putting me on the front of a magazine holding my first ever perfectionist latte art up top. I’m going to make sure I get a picture of that.”
Butler’s always been a man of passions. His love of basketball has pushed him to rise from the JUCO ranks to become a five-time NBA All-Star and one of the best two-way guards in the league who took his game to a new level in the 2020 Finals. The unquestioned leader of the Heat is finally fresh after arduous back-to-back seasons of basketball that barely afford him time to recover or pursue his passions away from the game.
“Everybody’s gotta understand you actually have a life after basketball when you go home,” he says.
If you paid close attention to all things bubble then you know Butler’s been about his coffee for more than a minute. What started as a joke—the creation of Butler’s BIGFACE coffee brand that charged $20 a cup in Orlando—has turned into a newfound love and legitimate business. Call him a coffee snob and he’ll be flattered. Ask him for his favorite coffee drink and he can’t settle on one. Inquire about how many cups he consumes a day and you’ll probably be shocked. Or possibly appalled.
So before he celebrates the nationwide launch of BIGFACE on International Coffee Day we caught up with Butler to ask him a bunch of questions about coffee beans and basketball. Like how heavy was the mental toll following last year’s short turnaround? How many cups of coffee does he have per day? Is the Eastern Conference better than the West? And how is Shopify helping his brand launch an NFT store?
“I think they’ve just been huge in helping us align with all the partners we’ve been working with and trying to bring this thing to life,” says Butler. “If I didn’t know any better, I would think they were the people who created BIGFACE all because they care so much and want to see it be successful and I think that what we’re doing is going to set the market for everybody else.”
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Is this something you envisioned back when your coffee craze came to light in the bubble?
Hell no, to be brutally honest. [Laughs] Because it all started out as a joke. It was just a way to take my mind away from the game. But then as I really put my time and energy and effort into I realized how many people really do enjoy coffee. Not only that, i got to learn about so many different people through coffee. And this goes back before the bubble. Even in the bubble, I’d sit down with my teammates and I’d learn about them. But then people outside of my team, that worked for the NBA, other teams’ coaches, other teams’ players, when they wanted to come and sit down and talk, it’d be like, ‘Yo, how long you been drinking coffee? Man, this is how we do coffee where I’m from, yada, yada, yada.’ I was like, wow. I’m really learning about individuals. So I really wanted to bring back to the world, so to speak, in a sense that you can just sit down and really learn about people through coffee. Because you’ll come to learn you really do have a lot more in common with people than you think.
Were you always a coffee guy or did you come into it late because people get into coffee at different stages of their lives?
Um, no. I’m not afraid to admit it, I used to try and make it taste like candy. So if you had syrup, if you had sugar, put it in there. That’s when my trainer James was like you can’t drink your coffee like that. And I was like that’s weird because it’s my coffee. So that means I can drink it however I want. As I’m growing, I’m like let me taste this coffee the way it’s supposed to be. And that’s when I really came to gain an appreciation for it because you can really taste these notes in the coffee if you do it the right way. And then, on top of that, what really started to draw me in was the knowledge that you can learn in a sense of all of the different ways to make coffee, all the different things you can put into your coffee, like talking about a nitro cold brew, you’re talking like an americano, there’s so many different ways to have your coffee. I want to learn so I’m a student of everything so that’s what really started to pull me into coffee.
Alright, so let’s nerd out for a few minutes about coffee. How many cups a day do you drink?
[Whistles] Man, don’t repeat this: but like seven or eight.
Jesus Christ. I’m like three-to-four, maybe five a day. You’re up to seven a day?
You gotta hear me, though. I don’t think people understand how much time I spend actually making coffee, all these different types of coffee. I’ll wake up and, boom, I’ll want a latte. And then I’m talking finish my latte and right back over there, cortado. And then finish that and let me run out here and play a game of dominos. Hey, you know what? Hold on, pause this game of dominos, I’m finna go grab an americano real quick. They go so fast because I want to find the perfect ratio of everything. So as much as I enjoy drinking the coffee, I get more enjoyment out of actually making it.
Do you have a cutoff time for when you stop drinking coffee?
I do not. I can go to sleep drinking a normal cup of coffee because the way my body works I know how early I have to wake up in the morning, drink coffee, drink 10 cups of coffee before bed, take your ass to bed. So I’ve got that part figured out.
I know you’re a man of your passions. Have you become a snob about how you brew your coffee and judge others by how they brew theirs?
I don’t judge anybody. I like the word snob because it makes me think that I know what I’m talking about. So when somebody calls me a coffee snob I’m like thank you. You have no idea that I really know nothing about coffee and I’m steady learning every single day. But no, I don’t judge because I don’t think there’s a wrong way to do coffee. I just want everybody to sit down and have your coffee however you want to have it. Sit down and talk to somebody, learn about somebody, figure out what ya’ll have in common and stop all this damn hate that everybody wants to do anyway. That’s my main thing. However you want to drink your coffee that’s perfect. Let me be the one to bring you that coffee, let BIGFACE be the one to bring you that coffee.