Why Is Coffee Called Joe? – History Of A Delicacy

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Coffee is a drink that has been around for centuries, and it’s no wonder why. It wakes you up in the morning, gives you an extra boost of energy to get through your day, and can result in a more productive work week. 

You might see people call it by the name “cup of joe”, but where did this beverage get its name? Let’s find out “why is coffee called joe” – history of a delicacy in this post today.

Why Is Coffee Called Joe? – History Of A Delicacy

Let’s learn about “why is coffee called a cup of joe”, dating back centuries ago.

Military Connection

One of the most prevalent ideas concerning the origins of this term is that Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels coined it. When he outlawed alcohol on his ship in 1914, its sailors began drinking more coffee and referring to their daily cups as “of Joe” in allusion to how senior officers drank. Later on, this term expanded and became as well-known as it is now.

This hypothesis is dubious since alcohol was already scarce on military ships, so Joe Dan’s troops would have had limited opportunity to consume it. Furthermore, the phrase “cup of joe” did not reach widespread use until the 1930s. The first use was in 1931 as part of a Reserve Officer’s Manual, making this even less plausible!

The Average Drink for the Average Man

As coffee became increasingly popular, people began to link it with names. When GIs were heavily consuming this beverage due to their rough World War II lifestyle in the 1930s and 1940s, they commonly referred to it as “joe.”

So, a cup of joe might be a word referring to a regular guy who drinks coffee.

Combining Terms

Have you ever wondered why we call a cup of coffee “a jolt” rather than just “coffee”? The answer, it turns out, may be as easy as English slang.

The most likely reason “cup of Joe” indicates coffee is that it is a shortened form of “jamoke,” which combines Java and Mocha. You may recall that I stated that coffee was first exported from North Africa in the 1600s?

Coffee connoisseurs have long recognized that “java” is an abbreviation for Java Arabica. Dutch traders wanted in on the activity at the moment, so they began traveling into Southeast Asia or Indonesia with their newly acquired liking for coffee beans cultivated there!

For whatever reason, “java” persisted with consumers throughout time, becoming a general name for “coffee” rather than referring directly to Java.

Coffee was being grown and traded in both Yemen and Egypt at the same time. That is where arabica beans first appeared. Coffee dealers would stop at Mocha to purchase Yemeni beans. That is why coffee from the Arabia-Ethiopia borderlands is known as Mocha Java or “jamoke.” They later reduced this name to “joe.”

Despite the several spelling variations of “jamoke,” this ingenious phrase has survived and increased in popularity. From “coffee” (used by Native Americans) to current variants like “jamoca,” “jamoch,” and “jamock,” we can observe how much our language has evolved!

The Trademark

Martinson Coffee is frequently credited for trademarking the phrase “cup of Joe.” The originator, JosephMartinson, opened a business in New York City, where residents would buy his beans and refer to them as “Joe’scoffee” or “cups of Joe.” When individuals go between city pairs, likely, this word spreads as far away from him as possible.

What About Other Fun Slang Terms For Coffee?

A wide variety of slang terms are used to call coffee, but some have no idea the origin. And this is no surprise as there are still many theories surrounding this name.

However, people still use slang on a daily basis, despite their origins. So, in this post, we found some common phrases that might interest you:

Battery Acid God’s Blessing Morning Thunder
Bean Juice High Octane Mother’s Little Helper
Brain Juice Jamoke (Java + Mocha) Murk
Brewtus Jitter Juice My Daily Energy
Caffeine Infusion Leaded One’s Daily Infusion
C8H10N4O2 (chemical formula of caffeine) Liquid Energy Plasma
Cup of Jolt Liquid Lightning Rocket Fuel
Day-Starter Mocha Unleaded
Go Juice Morning Mud Wakey Juice
Worm Dirt

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people call coffee “Java”?

From the 17th century, the Dutch were among the first to plant coffee on Java, and they did so for a cause. With its tropical position, Java has an ideal climate.

The Dutch commerce was particularly robust at the time, and Europe was also beginning to import coffee. It’s no surprise that “java” has become such a common phrase in this region.

What Does the phrase/term “Jamocha” Mean in everyday context?

The term “jamocha” derives from two coffee-growing regions: Java and Mocha. During colonial times, they were two of the most common sources of world-class Java in Arabia, when these ports offered some of the greatest coffees on the planet! Over time, people joined these two locations and coined the term jamocha.

When they combined their famed “jamocha” recipe, they created a tasty and refreshing frozen dessert known today as coffee or chocolate-dipped ice cream.

In Conclusion

Coffee has been a staple of our society for centuries. It is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon! Although the history of “why is coffee called joe” is still questionable, by learning more, we can gain a deeper understanding of the culture of this delicacy.

We hope you find this post helpful. Thank you for taking your time, and we look forward to seeing you again.

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Almost 20 years already spent committed to coffee and more than 3 years of experience as a barista at Starbucks. Madelyn Doyle graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science from the University of California and finished the Coffee Skills Program at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).