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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)


Related Gallery: The Definitive Guide To Brewing Coffee At Home (Provided by Refinery29) For such a simple drink (literally water and beans), coffee can sure get complicated. So to demystify the various brewing methods for our favorite morning drink we went to an expert. Eric Grimm is an events manager at Everyman Espresso in NYC, as well as a professional barista and coffee writer. He was more than happy to answer our burning questions about how to get the best cup out of different kinds of brewing methods.From grinds to water temperatures to ratios, Grimm broke it down for us — and then some. But he also offered a word of advice, "All ratios are starting points. Only you know how you like your coffee, so play around with it. If it tastes weak, up your coffee dose or use less water and vice versa if it tastes too strong." He also reminds us that fresh-ground coffee is best, and while it's okay to buy pre-ground, try to use it up within a week.After that, it's just a matter of knowing your stuff (and being willing to experiment a bit). Pretty soon, you'll be the expert home barista you've always wanted to be. The Definitive Guide To Brewing Coffee At Home


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