A barista battle in the NBA bubble: Jimmy Butler's burgeoning coffee business

There's a fierce competition between Big Face Coffee and Little Face Coffee in the Miami Heat's hotel in the NBA's bubble in Orlando.
/ Source: TODAY

Forget Heat vs. Lakers in the NBA Finals. The real competition in the NBA bubble in Florida is between Big Face Coffee and Little Face Coffee.

Miami's players and coaches certainly have plenty of options to celebrate National Coffee Day on Tuesday considering they have rival businesses to choose from in the halls of their team hotel in Orlando.

Miami Heat star and budding coffee mogul Jimmy Butler has started a thriving business in the NBA's bubble in Orlando. Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE via Getty Images

Heat star Jimmy Butler started his Big Face Coffee out of his hotel room last month, charging a hefty $20 a cup and prompting Miami assistant athletic trainer Brandon Gilliam to undercut him with his $5 cup at Little Face Coffee in his hotel room.

"It just goes to show how close we are as a team, as a staff, that we have so much fun with all of it," Butler told ESPN's Malika Andrews. "We got a little competition, but it's all fun and games. Now, I make way more money than he does over at Little Face Coffee, you should know that. Big Face is still the one. But you know, it's all love."

Butler was first to market with his Big Face Coffee back in early August when the NBA season restarted in the bubble after being on hiatus since March due to the pandemic.

The 31-year-old shooting guard, who is in his first season with the team, didn't like the limited coffee options at the team hotel, so he brought a French press, a pour-over and a grinder, and set up shop with a sign outside his door.

Right off the bat, his fees were steep, at $20 a cup, whether it's small, medium or large, and he established a firm rule: No IOUs.

He even serves it in his own cups with his brand logo on them and has been seen wearing sweatshirts and hats with "Big Face Coffee Owner" on them before games.

Big Face Coffee definitely has the marketing advantage on Little Face Coffee at this point. Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE via Getty Images

While those coffee prices are no problem on an NBA player's salary, Gilliam wanted to provide a cup of joe that was more in the price range of the average Joe.

"I tell (Butler), 'You're the high frills, you make mochaccinos and frappe-lattes,'" Gilliam told ESPN. "'I am just black coffee, man. So let me have my little world down there.'"

What started as a fun way to build team camaraderie in the unique circumstances of the bubble may actually become a real thing. According to ESPN, Butler has applied for the trademark and logo for Big Face Coffee and has been approached by vendors that want to sell it across the country.

The coffee rivalry has helped the Heat bond during their run to their first Finals appearance since 2014, which has included knocking off the higher-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics.

They face off against a Lakers team led by LeBron James, one of the stars of the last Heat team to win the NBA title in 2013. No word yet on whether King James Coffee has entered the market.