As with many things in the world, coffee isn’t always called coffee. Nicknames are popular throughout the world, and coffee isn’t excluded from this. Calling coffee a cup of Joe or simply, Joe isn’t new and is very common in many parts of the world.
But where on Earth did calling coffee “Joe “come from? It’s not like you can shorten the word coffee and get the name Joe. So who is Joe, and why do we refer to this energizing beverage by this name?
Coffee is Called Joe Because of Josephus Daniels
Most of us refer to coffee simply as coffee, but there are thousands of people in the world who call coffee a cup of Joe. The big question on everyone’s mind (okay, maybe not everyone’s) is who is Joe, and why do we call our morning cup of coffee Joe?
The term Joe for coffee can be dated back to the era of World War I based on one standard theory. Well, we can attribute the term cup of Joe to Josephus Daniels.
The word Joe is not only a nickname for the ever-popular name Joseph, but in the past, it’s also been used to refer to a soldier or someone that you would consider just your average guy.
Interestingly, Josephus Daniels was what many called an average guy, and he did have a career in the military. Therefore, he really seemed to embody the name and nickname, Joe.
Who is Josephus Daniels?
So who is this Josephus Daniels guy? Josephus Daniels was born in May of 1862 and lived to be 86 before passing away in January of 1948. Throughout his fairly long life, he had several roles. From son to sibling, husband to father, and newspaper publisher to working for the President.
Josephus Daniels served as the Secretary of the United States Navy under the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson.
Previously he worked in North Carolina as a newspaper publisher before venturing into his new role in 1913. After his time serving as the Secretary of the Navy, he became an ambassador for Mexico.
Josephus Daniels is well known for making some significant changes to the Navy while in charge. During his tenure as the Secretary of the Navy, some of his most significant accomplishments include discouraging prostitutes on vessels, increasing the number of chaplains, and prohibiting soldiers from alcohol consumption on any Naval vessels.
When Daniels prohibited the consumption of alcohol on naval vessels, this, in turn, increased the amount of coffee that the soldiers and other personnel were drinking.
How Did We Arrive at the Term Cup of Joe?
While many people attribute the term cup of Joe or just Joe when referring to coffee to Josephus Daniels, how exactly did we start calling coffee this?
Language researchers have investigated this issue and have decided it’s possible it came from the military tale of Josephus Daniels. But, it’s more probable that we call coffee Joe because of another reason besides Josephus Daniels.
Other Theories About Why We Call Coffee a Cup of Joe
While the military tale of Josephus Daniels is a strong contender for why we call coffee Joe or a cup of Joe, it’s not the only theory floating around in the world.
The main reason historians don’t agree with the military tale of Josephus Daniels as the reason for calling coffee Joe is that it didn’t appear in the language until 1930, well after Daniels served under Woodrow Wilson.
If you’re also not sold on Josephus Daniels being the real reason we call coffee Joe or a cup of Joe, here are two other solid theories for why coffee got this nickname.
Java and Jamoke
Java and jamoke are two other popular nicknames for coffee. Some historians and those who study linguistics believe that we call coffee Joe or a cup of Joe because of these two nicknames.
Java has been a term used to refer to coffee for ages. Originally, coffee was referred to as Java only if it came from the island of Java. Coffee grown in this area of Indonesia was the only coffee you could call this at the time. Nowadays, you can use java to refer to coffee or any kind.
Jamoke was a popular slang word for an ordinary person. This definition is kind of similar to how when people spoke about Joe, they were referring to an average person.
Many believe that somehow java and jamoke were shortened to reach the name, Joe. How exactly this happened is unknown, but back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon to hear people ask someone for a cup of jamoke or a cup of java.
The Common Man’s Drink
As we mentioned earlier, calling someone a Joe is a way to refer to them as an average man. Many people believe coffee gained the Joe nickname due to it being a very common drink.
Coffee was and still is super popular around the world and in Western culture. Coffee was often referred to as the common man’s drink or the average person’s drink, which was in turn shortened to a cup of Joe or just Joe.
Nicknames for Coffee Besides Joe
Calling coffee a cup of Joe isn’t the only nickname that coffee has. The variety in nicknames for this delicious and popular drink comes from the appearance of the drink, the energizing properties, and more. If you’re wondering what other unique nicknames are used to refer to coffee, check out this list:
- Worm dirt
- Rocket fuel
- Brain juice
- Bean juice
- Go juice
Some of the names are less than appealing, such as dirt, mud, and worm dirt. Others make a lot of sense for how the drink makes you feel.
Many people drink coffee in the morning so they can get their brains working and get up and go to work. Hence the nicknames brain juice and go juice. Bean juice is one of the most literal nicknames because coffee is made from coffee beans.