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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Jimmy Butler Wants His Coffee Brand Everywhere

  • The six-time NBA All-Star wants to build a powerhouse in the coffee industry.
  • His latest collaboration is an ice cream flavor at Van Leeuwen’s called Big Face Coffee Affogato.
Big Face

Steve Jobs and Apple. Bill Gates and Microsoft. 

Jimmy Butler and … Big Face?

That’s a bold comparison, but don’t tell that to Butler, whose coffee company Big Face originated as a quick cash grab ($20 per cup)  in 2020 at the NBA’s Orlando Bubble.

Now that the offseason is here, Butler didn’t want to speak much about basketball. His Miami Heat had just lost a heartbreaker to the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. 

What he did want to talk about was his coffee brand, something that started organically and turned into a passion project, officially launching in fall 2021. Butler referred to his brand and collaborators as a family while celebrating a limited-release flavor at Van Leeuwen’s called Big Face Coffee Affogato.

Butler never lacks confidence on the court, and he doesn’t with his coffee. In fact, he’s prepared to convince you to buy a cup for $100. 

We’ll let him explain… 

You want to charge $100 a cup. Am I reading that right?

I want to. I think we have to get to a point where maybe it’s not the norm, but it’s worth $100: “Oh my god, I understand why this is $100.” I think a lot of education is going to have to be executed to teach individuals why this coffee is this way. It’ll teach me, too — there’s still so much I have to learn about coffee and what goes into it and the process of making it. But I read, I listen, and I’m out there in the fields trying to figure it all out.

What makes the Big Face coffee product unique in a crowded market? Have you received any encouraging feedback?

Almost everything is sold out, and that’s the best feedback you can ever get. We’re listening to the people, what they want, and how we can try bringing that to the market in what they’re asking for — especially when it comes to the merch. We have a great team that, along with me, is picking a different and great variety of beans. More than anything, coffee brings people together, it forces you to sit down, enjoy a cup, and have a conversation with somebody.

You mentioned merch — how much does that have to do with pushing the brand?

I mean, when I started this whole thing, I wanted the Big Face brand to have something for everybody. So, even if you’re not an avid coffee drinker, you can wear a shirt, you can get new sweatpants, you can get a hat. You can still be a part of this Big Face family, and we still have so much coming out for kids and for pets. 

Coffee was the starting point, but we branched out in a direction so that it can be for everybody.

How did your partnership with Van Leeuwen ice cream come about, and how did you influence it flavor-wise?

I wasn’t always a huge fan of the city of New York — always so busy, there’s so many people, and I’m from a small town. I like grass and the country. Then my financial advisor took me over to Van Leeuwen [headquarters] for a meeting for at least 25-30 scoops of ice cream, and we didn’t come across one that we didn’t like. Even the special mac n’ cheese — I was like, “Yo, this is incredible!”

And then we just built a vibe! We’re sitting there getting to know one another, talking about how Big Face started, how [Ben Van Leeuwen] started, how my basketball career started, so we kept in contact. Then Ben came and said, “Yo, what if we did a Big Face coffee-flavored ice cream?” I thought, “Wow, that’s a great idea.”

The trial and error of us finding the right coffee, adding the sweet cream and ingredients, putting it all together — it was all a blessing. The Big Face team and the Van Leeuwen team really did something special, and I can’t wait to bring it to the world.

That all sounds dope, but I respectfully have to question the Mac n’ Cheese ice cream, Jimmy.

I’m telling you! I’m telling you! You don’t know until you know.

You guys have been knocking on the championship door since you got to Miami. Is there anything you felt you guys were missing?

Man, honestly, I’m not ready to talk about basketball yet. I’m still in my feelings, so I don’t really get into it. I can’t. You’re opening up a door of emotions. I just want to talk about coffee and ice cream, my brother.

That’s OK. Back to business: Are there any other investments you’re working on, or are you strictly focused on Big Face?

Right now, a lot of my investments are in different ways to change the coffee space — whether it be the different types of milk you put in your coffee, oat milk, or even what you’re drinking your coffee out of. I think the world will find out that the Big Face brand wants to be part-owner in everything, and as a whole, we want to bring the best of everything out to the market. We want to provide the best in all of those categories.

Is there a specific target market/age you’re going after?

Everybody. I mean that. We wanna find a way to find things for kids, dogs and cats – pupachinos. We’ve been doing all types of research on how we can market this for every single individual when it comes to what you’re drinking out of, what you’re putting inside your coffee — milk, skim milk — whatever it is. Same goes for the merch, the color scheme.

We wanna make it for everybody.

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