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Jimmy Butler connects over coffee with Bucks fan


All right. It's NBA playoff time. And like all top athletes, these ballers have routines and rituals that bring them joy and get them ready to play.


For Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat, it's coffee. Let's rewind back to 2020.

CHANG: That's right. The NBA playoffs started in the bubble. All qualifying teams were in Orlando, Fla., but Butler saw there was a lack of good coffee. And he saw an opportunity and started charging other players 20 bucks a cup from his hotel room, armed with nothing but a single French press.

DETROW: Definitely a steep price for a steeped cup, but it grew into a real business, and Butler officially launched Bigface Coffee in October 2021. And it's a total passion project. Butler loves coffee.

CHANG: That's right. Here he is talking with Onyx Coffee Lab earlier this year.


JIMMY BUTLER: I want to be the best in the coffee world, just like...


BUTLER: ...I want to be in any and everything else.

ALLEN: That's cool.

BUTLER: But outside of the Bigface brand, myself, I want to be the world's best barista.

DETROW: The forward is a leading scorer on the Heat, so when he found himself preparing to take on the Milwaukee Bucks without a coffee grinder...

CHANG: Like any coffee professional, he reached out to a fellow pro, a local coffee store.

RYAN HOBAN: A grinder is a little bit harder to kind of, like, bring along, I guess. And so they just kind of - I don't know if they do this often, but I mean, they were here for five days. So they were just kind of setting up shop and getting as comfortable as they could in the house that they were staying at.

CHANG: That is Ryan Hoban, owner of Interval, a local coffee roaster in Milwaukee. Another Milwaukee coffee shop owner reached out to him looking for an extra grinder.

BUTLER: And I was like, yeah, I don't think I have anything laying around. And he was like, no, it's not for us. It's for - it's actually for Jimmy Butler. And I was like, oh. And then I thought a little bit harder. I was like, oh, actually we do have something around for Jimmy Butler.

DETROW: So Hoban dropped off the grinder and got the chance to talk shop with Butler. But Hoban didn't have his eye on the ball. This was the playoffs.

CHANG: Fueled with coffee, Jimmy Butler scored an impressive 35 points against Hoban's own home team, the Bucks, in that first game.

HOBAN: Yeah, we're still a pretty big sports town, and so there was definitely some internet hate.

DETROW: Hoban says he has no regrets on being hospitable, but it does help that the Bucks won game two.

HOBAN: I'm very grateful the Bucks did what they did because otherwise, we might have just closed the business down. I don't know.

CHANG: Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat will return to Milwaukee for game five on April 26.

DETROW: Hoban will be rooting for the Bucks, but he says he's always willing to brew and banter with Butler. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Megan Lim
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.

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