Last modified on 8 January 2015, at 07:55

cup of joe


Alternative formsEdit


Of uncertain origin. The most likely origin is considered a modification of a "cup of Java" or a "cup of jamoke". This origin was first described in 1931 in a military officer's manual as, “Jamoke, Java, Joe. Coffee. Derived from the words Java and Mocha, where originally the best coffee came from”.[1] The American comedian, W.C Fields (1880-1946), often requested a 'mokka java' which is a blend of Arabian and Dutch coffee.[2] Another possible origin is that until the building of the Panama Canal, America bought coffee beans from the Dutch (whose main plantations were on Java in the Dutch East Indies), and so American slang for coffee was "a cup of Java"; the call "Cuppa Joe!" was a request for a cup of Java coffee.[3] Alternatively, perhaps a use of joe (fellow, guy), signifying that coffee was the drink of the common man.

Another theory derives the term from Josephus Daniels (1862-1948), Secretary of the U.S. Navy; he abolished the officers' wine mess, whereafter coffee became the strongest drink available on navy ships. However, the term "cup of joe" is first recorded as entering the English language in the 1930s, some 16 years after the Daniels order.[4]

Still another possibility is the early use of "cup of George" and its evolution over time to "cup of joe". During World War One all the instant coffee made by the "G. Washington's Refined Coffee" company was requisitioned by the US Army. Coffee was the most popular drink in the American Army camps and World War One American soldiers frequently called for a cup of “George” as slang for coffee.[5]


cup of joe (plural cups of joe)

  1. (chiefly US, idiomatic) A cup of coffee.
    • 2008 April 9, James Poniewozik, Starbucks' New Brew: A First Taste, in Time:
      Pike Place is Starbucks' attempt to address complaints that its regular cup of joe is bitter, overroasted and "burnt."


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^, quoting "Cup of joe" in Michael Quinion, Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds, 2004.
  5. ^ Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World] by Mark Pendergrast