Even though it is only noon when I speak with Jimmy Butler, he has already consumed four cups of coffee that day. I’ve had a cup of coffee, and when we hop on a call, I can feel my heart racing due to a combination of caffeine and nerves. How do you not feel anxious after consuming four cups of coffee? His simple response is, “I simply adore it.” “When I’m sitting with friends, telling stories, and sharing coffee, one cup quickly becomes four.”
Butler’s passion for coffee is centered on relationships and storytelling, but it wasn’t always this way. During the 2020 NBA season, Butler launched his coffee business amidst a pandemic-induced bubble. It began in part as a joke. Butler was aware that the coffee available in Orlando was inferior to what he and other NBA players were accustomed to drinking, so he brought his own espresso machine in order to make money. Unbeknownst to him, this was the start of the Big Face coffee brand.
Butler deadpans, “As I sat in my hotel room in the Orlando bubble, all I could think about was how I could con these guys out of their money.” The hustle came in the form of coffee—he had lattes, pour overs, cappuccinos, you name it. Each drink cost $20 in cash, a steep price for the average consumer but a reasonable exchange for professional basketball players. “I knew people had cash, but no one was using it due to Covid, so I decided to accept cash.”
“When I’m sitting with friends, telling stories, and sharing coffee, one cup quickly becomes four.”
Butler hoped that his teammates and fellow players would produce $100 bills, which he referred to as “big faces,” and that he would be able to shrug when he didn’t have change and pocket the money anyway. “It was never truly effective,” he chuckles. “Nobody ever gave me a hundred.”
In actuality, Butler was defrauded by his former teammate Goran Dragc. “While I was trying to scam people out of their money, Goran was literally scamming me out of my coffee,” Butler says. “I didn’t realize he never paid for a cup until after the fact.” According to Butler, Dragc was strategic: he would stop by for a couple of cups of coffee and exchange stories with Butler about summers in Slovenia or game strategy for the following day before slinking off to practice without exchanging any cash.
However, Butler is unfazed, stating that the incident only increased his interest in coffee. He consumes all types of coffee, including pour-overs, cappuccinos, and mochas. He challenges others to latte art competitions despite admitting he can’t “do a damn thing” when it comes to latte art. His preferred milk is oat, but even when using it, no art emerges from the foam. He chuckles, “My hands are too large and shaky.”