How & Why Did Coffee Came to be Known as ‘The Cup of Joe’?

Most people take the name of coffee far more often than once in their day. To break the monotony and add a twist, sometimes it is also referred to as ‘the cup of Joe.’

Have you ever stopped to wonder why it is not a cup of Jack or Jill for that matter? This is an ancient phrase that has been in use for almost a century now.

Cup of Joe

If you search the net, you will come across nearly half a dozen theories as to why coffee came to be known as the good old ‘cup of Joe.’

According to some, Joe is a popular mispronunciation of the French word chaud that means hot. The reason being that chaud is pronounced in a manner that it rhymes with Joe.

However, it doesn’t seem entirely credible that a misunderstood French word would gain such popularity in almost all parts of the world.

Another theory says that the famous phrase has its origin in Indonesia and not France. Coffee used to be produced in and exported from a place called Java in Indonesia, where it was known as Jamoke. Joe is believed to have come from a combination or shortening of these two.

Another theory says that Joe was a name oft used to refer to the common man, quite similar to the use of Tom, Dick, and Harry.

Given its popularity among the men of all cultures and classes, coffee, the common man’s favorite drink came to be known as ‘the cup of Joe.’ In support of this theory, the phrase is claimed to have been in use among English language speakers since 1846.

However the most famous as well as the most believed legend, which even finds a mention in history says that ‘the cup of Joe,’ innocent as it may sound was invented as a slang!

The phrase originally was known as the ‘cup of Josephus’ was coined as an insult by naval officers to the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels during the governance of Woodrow Wilson.

The story goes that Josephus Daniels in his attempt to discipline the unruly and rowdy sailors under him imposed a strict code of conduct and morality both on and off the board, by issuing an order called the General Order 99.

Some of these included the penalizing of prostitution at naval bases and setting up of chaplains instead! The most notorious of these rules was the ban put on alcohol, which didn’t go down well with the sailors.

This left them with no other option than to substitute alcohol with the other most robust and popular drink available, coffee. As the purchases of coffee are increased in and around naval bases, the reason behind it, Josephus Daniels’ name got linked to it forever.

What started as slang, ‘the cup of Josephus Daniels’ soon shortened to the famous phrase ‘the cup of Joe’.

None of these theories, however, can either be discarded altogether or be taken to be 100% accurate.

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