Jimmy Butler Of BIGFACE Brand: The Sprudge Interview


From pull-up jumpers to pulling shots, BIGFACE Brand founder and six-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler is showing off his range. This past weekend marked the brand’s first major  activation at the 2022 Miami Open, following a public roll-out in late 2021. What began as a 2020 NBA bubble pop-up is now the official coffee brand for the players and VIP lounges at the Masters and WTA 1000 events in Miami, some of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world outside the four Majors, which means Butler has crossed over to a different court.

Located in the North Sideline Club of Hard Rock Stadium, BIGFACE has carved-out an immersive coffee experience that appeals to all coffee drinkers. Butler and a select team of coffee collaborators are treating tournament goers to a BIGFACE espresso drink flight as well as the IO.A-DBMZ 12 oz Hypercold canned coffee, a single origin from the micro-region of El Tambo, Colombia. The name of the canned coffee drink is a shoutout to coffee producer, Diego Bermudez. The pop-up also includes espresso-based drinks, specialty drinks, and merch.

While this experience has been a huge hit with the tennis world, Butler has expansive plans for BIGFACE in the future. From collaborations to merch, expect more from the brand moving forward—this activation is only the beginning. “We always say BIGFACE to the moon, so we’ll end up on the moon one day, too,” Butler muses.

Make no mistake about it, Jimmy Butler is passionate about coffee—and tennis, keeping a racket at the ready over the past few days, just in case the coffee visit turns in a tennis match.  I had the chance to sit down with the Miami Heat superstar and learn about his love for coffee, how the Miami Open activation came to be, and what’s next for BIGFACE.

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Gio Fillari: Jimmy! What’s going on? How you doing?

Jimmy Butler: I’m good, brother. How are you?

GF: Good man. Blessed, man. I appreciate you taking the time. I know it must be a little bit difficult, averaging 21 points a game and having a whole-ass brand activation for your coffee company?

Jimmy Butler: It makes it a little bit more difficult, but I’m having fun with these things so we good.

GF: I see that. Were you on bar today?

Jimmy Butler: Yes, I was. I was out there doing my thing. I don’t like to brag, but I am pretty good at these coffee things. So, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but toot, toot.

GF: Toot, toot. First off, let me say that as someone in the coffee industry, from a writing and photography perspective, it’s really good seeing Black folks in coffee, specifically the ones that really dive in deeper with the finer points of understanding the industry, not to mention getting on bar and just shedding light on your love for coffee. It’s really dope seeing you do what you do. So I really appreciate that.

Jimmy Butler: No, I appreciate it. I think there’s so much to learn and I’m not angry at the fact that people just don’t know what they don’t know, because I don’t know as much as I think I know anyway. I’m constantly trying to learn about any type of coffee, especially with specialty coffee. It’s been so much fun because there’s so much to learn. You can’t possibly know everything and I think it’s what keeps my mind wrapped around coffee as a whole.

GF: I hear you and then it makes a lot of sense. I think that for a lot of people—and I can’t speak for everyone—but a lot of people who have the capital to take on new business ventures, and go into it green, they think “Hey, you know what? I got the resources to execute any way I want so this should all be simple.” I think the approach you are taking instead is super important. We love to hear it.

Jimmy Butler: It’s tough. I like it.

GF: I want to ask first, what’s the sentiment been around BIGFACE so far, specifically within league circles? I know that coffee is not the typical sort of business venture that most athletes get into. What has the reaction been like in the league so far? What’s been talked?

Jimmy Butler: It’s been great. I don’t consider this a business venture, though. I consider this like a love and a passion that I have.

GF: Even better.

Jimmy Butler: I’ve spent so much time studying up on coffee, and how to better the coffee that we have here at the BIGFACE brand, and bring it to all different types of people everywhere. It’s not a business venture, that’s all. It’s something that I really enjoy doing. Something that calms me. It’s something that brings me together with so many different people from all over the world and it just humanizes me. I’m not an athlete when I’m drinking coffee. I’m just a coffee drinker that likes oat milk in their latte. I’m a coffee drinker that likes almond milk in their cappuccino.

That’s my favorite part about this whole thing. I’m just a coffee drinker, just like that lady is, like that man is. To me that’s the most exciting thing about this. But around the league, everybody knows that I’m very passionate about it. Every time they see me, [they’re like] “this fool really does have a cup of coffee every time I see him!”

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GF: I love it.

Jimmy Butler: It’s a love. It’s not a business venture.

GF: I appreciate you clarifying that. That really speaks to someone who takes the time out of their schedule, whether it’s busy or not, to really dip in deep to what they’re passionate about and share it with the world. Do you remember one of your first memorable experiences with coffee?

Jimmy Butler: I do. I probably got two. First, my trainer, for some odd reason, he was like, “You know what? Let’s go sit down and have a cup of coffee.” I was like, “I don’t drink coffee. I don’t like coffee and I damn sure don’t want drink coffee and sit down and talk with you.” But he ended up dragging me out, he gives me a cup of coffee and I’m like…”this is horrible.” So I dumped like 20 packets of sugar in this coffee. My trainer, he’s that guy that’s like, “hey, you got to eat rice before the game, you got to eat pasta, you can’t have this, you can’t have that,”so he’s kind of nagging me. He told me, “You can’t put all of that sugar in your coffee,” and I’m like yeah, whatever, it’s my coffee. You wanted to drink it with me. Here we go.

Fast forward about two years, we’re sitting in London at a coffee shop. I just remember walking to this coffee shop and asking the barista to make me something that doesn’t have a lot of sugar, because I don’t want to hear my trainer’s mouth, but also I wanted something that didn’t exactly taste like coffee. He made me a latte, put some cool cinnamon design at the top and I was like, wow, this is really good! That same moment in time, I had a conversation with a phenomenal lady in London in that very same coffee shop; she was there every morning between 8:30 and 9:00am, and we just talked about football, AKA soccer… what our favorite players were, what clubs we liked the most.

Those two memories really bring me back to what coffee really was about for me then, which is this idea that there’s so many different ways to have your coffee, and you always have something in common with somebody if they’re drinking coffee. So why don’t y’all sit down, talk about all the good times on what you do have in common, and just leave all the negative energy out. That’s part of why I love coffee so much because the conversations that I’ve been able to have over a cup of coffee have been unmatched for years to come now.

GF: One million percent. And shout out to your trainer and shout out to that cafe in London for fostering that experience for you, for sure. But you make a great point, it really brings community together, right? You have the opportunity just to learn more about other people and get around people that are also into coffee, and you meet people you never would’ve met otherwise.

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Jimmy Butler: That’s true.

GF: Fast forward. We’re at the Miami Open, and this is your first brand activation for BIGFACE. From the t-shirts that came out with it, to the new drinks you’re making, how did this all come about?

Jimmy Butler: A lot of hours and a lot of brain power from so many different individuals. It’s like, I always say, people always see the finished product of everything—and it’s the same thing in the basketball world—they all see the 21 points that I average, the however many rebounds and assists, but you don’t see all the work that I’m doing with my trainer and my physical therapist. They’re a big part of why I am who I am.

With that being said, I have an incredible team here with the BIGFACE brand that are really the engine that makes this thing go and on the ideas that they’re putting together, the way they’re making things come together on a fly like that is quite impressive to me because I don’t think that I could do it without the individuals that I have. I’m very, very grateful for them and just to be able to be around a sport that I love with so many great athletes and individuals that I’ve become friends with and bring my brand—our brand, I should say—to them and teach them about it. At the same time, it brings me joy because they don’t know as much as I think that I know. At least I can teach them the little bit of knowledge that I do know.

GF: I love that. I know that you’re known to having a football in your hand. Did you bring your tennis racket with you to the Miami open?

Jimmy Butler: I did actually in the back of my car, just in case somebody wanted to pop off and I got to go out there and grab my gear, but I’ll probably come up with an excuse, like my hamstring hurts just so I don’t have to get embarrassed. I’ll talk a big game, but I’m not, I’m not stepping in between the lines of these pros.

GF: That’s fair. Do you have any favorite tennis players?

Jimmy Butler: I do. Emma Raducanu, she’s like my favorite now. I have a daughter, like I tell everybody my daughter has no choice, but to either love her or Serena for obvious reasons.

GF: Obvious.

Jimmy Butler: And then Alexander (Sasha) Zverev is a really, really good friend of mine. He humbles me all the time on the tennis court. I’m still yet to hit one of his serves back, but I think today’s the day we’re going to get out there. Today’s the day I’m going to return one of his serves. I’m telling you as much as I support them and everything, they’ve been a blast to like be around and drink coffee with because they do the same for me and my brains.

GF: That’s what’s up. So thinking ahead—whether it’s through products or popups, do you have a future collaboration that you want to see BIGFACE partner with? This could be with a person, or a separate brand or maybe another event?

Jimmy Butler: Oh, that’s a good question. You know what, now that I’m in the moment that I am in right now and I’m doing it with tennis, I love to do it with like Emma or Sasha or somebody one of my friends like that just to put them on with my brand as well. But then again, I love PSG and I love soccer. So being able to do something with Neymar would be a blessing. It’d be something that would really make me smile. Who knows? We always say “BIGFACE to the moon,” so we’ll end up on the moon one day, too. There’s just so many great ideas that I have that we have as a team. We’ll bring them to life one of these days.

GF: Last question: outside of future collabs or popups, can you share anything else that may be coming up for BIGFACE? What’s coming up next in the near future that the folks can start looking out for?

Jimmy Butler: I can, but I like the element of surprise. We do have some really cool stuff coming up, more collabs, stuff that I can’t believe is actually happening that it is. I’m super excited to share it with you and the world and everybody else just because we’re constantly thinking of ways to be better and to teach people about the brand, about specialty coffee and just great coffee, great merch, bringing great people together. We got some really big stuff coming soon, so be on the lookout.

GF: All right, bet. Well Jimmy, again—it really means a lot seeing you dive deep in your passion for coffee and elevate coffee as an industry. We truly appreciate you.

Jimmy Butler: No, I appreciate you, man. Thank you so much Gio.

Follow BIGFACE Brand on Instagram and visit the official BIGFACE Brand website.

All photos courtesy BIGFACE Brand. 

Giovanni Fillari is Brand Marketing Specialist at Nike and the publisher of @coffeefeedpdx. He is the honorable mention Sprudgie Award recipient for Social Media in 2018 and 2021. Read more Giovanni Fillari for Sprudge.

 






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