NBA Star Jimmy Butler Has a Side Hustle as a Coffee Mogul


4 min read


The Miami Heat may have lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, but that won’t stop their all-star forward, Jimmy Butler, from pursuing his coffee dreams. 

Butler raised eyebrows for the pop-up expresso shop he ran out of his hotel room at Walt Disney World. Calling it Big Face Coffee, the baller-turned-barista charged players $20 a cup for Java items including lattes, macchiatos and Americanos — all brewed with his imported French press. Butler required cash only and refused I.O.U’s. “I might bump it up to $30,” Butler told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “People here can afford it.”

At first, Butler’s side hustle seemed like the Instagram-worthy joke of a bored millionaire trying to kill time in the NBA bubble. The Heat have been isolated there for three months to protect against COVID-19. Butler himself said he started the business because of complaints about the quality of in-the-bubble coffee. 

But it turns out Butler has plans to take Big Face Coffee on the road. Last month, he filed paperwork and dropped $4,125 in fees, seeking trademarks for Big Face Coffee merchandise, such as mugs, hats, coffee beans and assorted baked goods. Also on his trademark list: The “No I.O.U.s” slogan. 

Related: 10 Deals for Entrepreneurs Who Love Coffee

From rags to riches

The coffee industry is tough to crack and highly competitive, but Butler knows something about overcoming odds. When he was 13 years old, his mother kicked him out of the house, saying, “I don’t like the look of you. You gotta go,” Butler recalls. 

He spent much of his high school years sleeping on friends’ couches and scrapping together money wherever he could. Basketball was his lifeline. But despite putting up stellar numbers at Tomball High School in Texas, Butler didn’t catch the eye of any major college recruiters. He ended up going to Tyler Junior College, where he became their leading scorer and was an Honorable Mention Junior College All-American. 

College coaches around the country began to notice, and Butler got a scholarship to Marquette University. But his career there didn’t exactly start with a bang. Butler spent much of his sophomore year warming the bench. He averaged just 5.6 points a game for the Golden Eagles. His coach Buzz Williams was “ruthless” with him because “he didn’t know how good he could be. He’d been told his whole life he wasn’t good enough. What I was seeing was a guy who could impact our team in so many ways,” he told ESPN.

The tough love worked. By his senior year, Butler ended up being one of Marquette’s star players. “Those guys taught me so much about how to play and how to be a man,” he says. “I knew that to be successful; I had to be more than a scorer. I had to become a leader.”

Butler was drafted with the 30th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls. During his career, he has been a five-time NBA All-Star, an Olympic Gold-Medalist, and a scoring powerhouse, earning him the nickname “Jimmy Buckets.”

Related: Do You Drink More Coffee Than Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Other Creative Leaders?

Coffee for the win

In his first season with The Heat, Butler took the fifth-seeded team all the way to the NBA Finals. Last year, the team didn’t even make it to the playoffs. Still, Butler says he was disappointed with his performance. “I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain,” he says. “So that means I need to do it next year.”

No word on what Butler plans to do on the off-season, but like his basketball career, you can be sure he will continue to grind it out with Big Face Coffee.  

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