Why Is Coffee Called A Cup Of Joe?

There is a lot of mystery surrounding the nickname.

It doesn’t matter if you enjoy waking up in the morning or not, there are certain parts of the process that you likely appreciate. Perhaps one of the best parts about waking up is the aroma of some freshly brewed coffee. Even though you may be groggy, you know that there is a cup of deliciousness waiting for you.

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide. There have even been songs written about it! It’s no surprise, therefore, that people use terms of endearment when they talk about their morning cup of coffee, including calling it java, or a “cup of Joe.” Perhaps you may even use that expression yourself, but did you know where those coffee nicknames came from?

One of the more popular nicknames is calling your morning cup of coffee, “java.” This has to do with where much of the coffee was coming from when it became popular in the 1800s. There is an Indonesian island by the same name, so it was a simple step to begin calling the beverage by its origination location.

Another common nickname for your morning cup of coffee is to refer to it as a “Cup of Joe.” Although it is a popular option, there is a lot of mystery that surrounds its origins. Some theories are out there that may shed some light on the subject, but it is impossible to say which one is the correct one.

Photo: Pixabay

In 1914, a law went into effect by the secretary of the Navy, Josephus “Joe” Daniels. That law made it illegal for alcohol to be served on U.S. Navy ships. When the order was imposed, World War I was just brewing (forgive the lame joke) so if a sailor wanted a strong drink, black coffee was the beverage of choice.

As you can imagine, most sailors were not very happy about the restriction so they started protesting by calling coffee a “cup of Joe.” Although this sounds like a plausible theory, there are some reasons to question it. For example, an alcohol ban on Navy ships may not have had such a severe impact because it was not commonly served on those ships prior to the time it was outlawed.

In addition, it wasn’t until around 1930 that historians are able to find the expression integrated into the English language. That is why many feel that it has to do with a common name that was used for the beverage at the time, Jamoke (a combination of mocha and java). Over time, it is thought that the more complex name of Jamoke may have been shortened into Joe.

There is a third theory that it may be called a Cup of Joe because it was the drink of the common man. Joe is typically used as slang for an ordinary chap, so this theory isn’t much of a stretch.

In the end, it’s an interesting conversation, but it doesn’t change the fact that we love our morning cup of coffee. Who knows, over time, we may come up with another term of endearment that keeps us going back for more.