Why Do People Call Coffee Joe

Do you ever wonder why coffee is often referred to as a “cup of joe”? It’s an intriguing nickname that has puzzled coffee enthusiasts for decades. While the exact origins of this term remain a mystery, there are a few interesting theories that may shed some light on its peculiar name. In this article, we’ll explore two historic and two linguistic explanations that could explain the rise of the term “cup of joe” during the 1930s.

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Martinson Coffee was Joe’s Coffee

One theory suggests that the trademarked term “cup of joe” originated from Martinson Coffee, a company founded by Joe Martinson in 1898. Joe Martinson was known for his larger-than-life personality, and it is believed that locals may have referred to coffee as “Joe’s coffee” or simply a “cup of joe.” As Martinson Coffee gained popularity and expanded, the term could have gradually transitioned into a widely used nickname by the 1930s. Interestingly, Martinson Coffee has had its fair share of fame, with their cans being painted by Andy Warhol and even making an appearance on the TV show Mad Men.

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Josephus “Joe” Daniels Banned Alcohol on Ships

In 1914, Secretary of the Navy Josephus “Joe” Daniels implemented a ban on alcohol aboard all U.S. Navy ships. As young men found themselves serving on dry ships during the onset of World War I, the strongest drink available to them was coffee. Hence, they started referring to it as a “cup of joe.” Critics argue that this theory may be flawed since alcohol was not widely available on Navy ships at the time of the ban. However, it is plausible that the term resurfaced during Prohibition in the 1930s, as it provided a way for sailors to express their dissent without directly criticizing the Secretary of the Navy.

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Java + Mocha = Joe

Linguists propose an intriguing theory that suggests “joe” could be a shortened version of “jamoke.” In the 1930s, “jamoke” was a common nickname for coffee, derived from a combination of “java” and “mocha.” The term “jamoke” eventually evolved into “joe,” similar to how slang terms undergo changes over time. This linguistic explanation offers an interesting perspective on the origin of the term “cup of joe.”

The Average Man’s Drink

Another possibility is that “cup of joe” simply refers to an ordinary person’s drink. The term “joe” often represents the average man, hence the phrase “the average joe.” This theory suggests that the nickname “cup of joe” could have emerged as a reference to the everyday person’s beverage of choice. It’s worth noting that the term might have gained momentum after World War II when working-class individuals frequented diners and were commonly served their morning coffee in “cups of joe.”

While the true origin of “cup of joe” remains uncertain, one thing is clear: the term has firmly established itself in our coffee culture. Since the 1930s, “cup of joe” has grown increasingly popular, and it shows no signs of fading away. So, the next time you sip your favorite brew, remember that you’re enjoying a cup of coffee with an intriguing and mysterious history.

To learn more about coffee and explore the world of delightful flavors, head over to Marmalade Cafe, where your coffee journey awaits!