Not Just Your Average Joe

Most of us love to start our morning with a nice, steaming cup of joe. We meet friends for joe and even jones for joe when we haven’t had our fair share of it. But have you ever wondered why joe is called “joe”?

While a common expression for a common man is to refer to him as “Joe”, one theory suggests that’s not the true roots behind the term of endearment that implies “a cup of coffee”.

It all began way back in World War 1 with a man named Josephus Daniels. A notorious editor and publisher, it wasn’t Josephus’ journalism connections that made him famous, it was his position of Secretary of the Navy alongside his top aide, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As popular as the leader was though, one action he took made him terribly unpopular, with the sailors at least.

One fateful day in July of 1914, the Josephus Daniels made a bold decree. He banned alcoholic beverages from all U.S. Navy ships by way of what is formally known as General Order No. 99. Up until this time, “grog”, as it was called, was to a sailor what peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches are to a child. The two went hand-in-hand.

In search of a suitable substitute, the Secretary of the Navy insisted, even forced, the men to drink coffee instead, or so it is said, at least. The sailors began to refer to the caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverage as a “cup of joe”. And thus…the expression began.

No longer forced on the men and women at sea, coffee has become a staple for sailors and for the American public as a whole. According to an article in USA Today, a whopping 83 percent of all adults within the United States drink at least one cup of coffee per day. Java is consumed all over the world with the Netherlands taking the lead, drinking 2.14 cups per capita per day. That’s a lot of coffee!

Just how many coffee drinkers call their beloved beverage “joe” is a mystery. While the British may refer to it as a “cuppa joe” and the Spanish might pronounce it “jose”, it’s all the same, a good cup of joe is…a good cup of joe in any language.

1 Comment

  1. So THAT’s where “cup of Joe” came from! Wow.

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