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Why Coffee is Really Called 'A Cup of Joe'

Spoon University logo Spoon University 1/10/2018 Sam Tanchel

I don't know about you, but whenever I hear someone call coffee, "a cup of Joe," I can't help but think, who is Joe?! Did he discover the coffee bean? Did no other name sound good? Although those were pretty decent guesses, here's the story of the real reason coffee is called "a cup of Joe" and how this iconic nickname came to be.

a cup of coffee on a table: A Cup of Joe black coffee mocha © Shelby Cohron A Cup of Joe black coffee mocha

The Story

Josephus Daniels (Joe, for short) was the 41st Secretary of the Navy—and a strict one for that matter. In 1914 he banned the consumption of alcohol on all U.S. Navy ships.

So, coffee became the next strongest drink that a sailor could get his hands on and became the ~clean~ substitute for booze. The sailors started to sarcastically call coffee "a cup of Josephus Daniels" which eventually got shortened down to "A cup of Joe."

And such, the name stuck. You may call it a cup of Joe, Java, or even brain juice, but coffee is the one thing thats gets us all up in the morning.

Related video: Why Coffee? Jerry Seinfeld on the Beverage Back Story Behind ‘Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee’ (Provided by Food&Wine)

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Related Gallery: The Definitive Guide To Brewing Coffee At Home (Provided by Refinery29)

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