Why is Coffee Called Joe?

Have you ever heard of why coffee is referred to as joe? Yeah, me neither! I had been wondering for years why it was called a cuppa joe. Like, was Joe the guy who invented coffee?  Well, it turns out that there are several theories about why it was given this nickname, so grab your, uhm, Joe and let’s get our reading on.

joe drinking cuppa joe

Kaldi, Not Joe, Discovered Coffee Beans…

The origin story of coffee is a tad bit of a mystery, but it is believed to have originated in Ethiopia.

According to the local legend, a goat herder named Kaldi noticed that his goats became more energetic and playful….and wouldn’t fall asleep overnight after eating the berries of a certain plant. Seeing how energized they were, he decided to consume these berries himself. Lo and behold! He experienced as vivacious and playful and energetic as his goats. He decided to take these berries to a local monastery where they were made into a drink (coffee?!) and shared with the other monks.

In turn, these monks discovered that they could stay up longer, meditate and pray longer as well.

From Ethiopia, coffee spread to other parts of Africa and the Middle East, where it became popular among Islamic cultures. Thankfully, it was in the Arabian Peninsula that coffee began to be roasted and brewed as we know it today.

Coffee was finally introduced to Europe in the 16th century, and quickly became a popular beverage among the elite, upper classes. In the 17th century, European colonizers brought coffee to the Americas and today it is grown in many parts of the world, including Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

With as common as coffee began, it certainly didn’t start with anyone named Joe.

Theories of Why Coffee Became Known as Joe

but why

The origin of why coffee is called joe can be traced back to the early 1900s. The term “cup of joe” first appeared in print in the early 1930s, when a writer from the New York Evening Journal wrote about it in an article. He stated that sailors were calling it “cup of Joe” due to the name of the Secretary of the Navy at that time, Josephus Daniels. It was said that Josephus had issued a new rule on ships banning alcohol and replacing it with coffee instead.

Another popular theory is that it came from the term jamoke, which was coined by soldiers in World War I. Jamoke was created as an abbreviation for java and mocha, two of the most popular coffee beans. The term was used to describe the combination of these two powerful sources of caffeine, which was known to give an extra jolt of energy during battle.

The third and least likely theory is that it originated from the slang word “joey” or “joe” which was used to refer to coffee in the late 1800s. It was thought that the term possibly came from the Italian “caffè,” or café, but this has never been proven.

There’s yet another theory: that Joe was the name of a particular brand of coffee mix. This brand was very popular in the 1940s and 1950s, and it may have been why people began referring to coffee as Joe.

What is the Real Answer?

Truthfully, we have no way of knowing. The most likely answer is that Joe is just slang for the regular, average man and since coffee is a no fuss, no muss average basic bitch drink, it’s become known as Joe. Poor Kaldi who discovered coffee berries to begin with. Imagine: a cuppa Kaldi!

With that said, let’s all raise our cuppa of joes and thank goodness for it being an affordable, common man and woman drink!  Enjoy your cuppa Joe!