Cup Of Joe Sign

The Origins of a "Cup of Joe"

Cup Of Joe Sign

A “Cup of Joe” is an American nickname for a cup of coffee.  The exact origin of the phrase has not been formally traced, but here are some theories as to how it came about:

  1. “Joe” is a term used as a description of an average, ordinary gentleman.  A beverage involving the word “Joe” would indicate it is for the common typical man.  Thus, a “Cup of Joe” translated to a cup of coffee for the average man; made popular by the G.I Joe soldiers (average men who enlisted in the military) in the 1930s and 1940s and during World War II.
  2. It was named after the Secretary of the US Navy, Admiral Josephus “Joe” Daniels who abolished wine (or alcohol) on Navy ships in 1914.  Thus, coffee (the next best thing) was the beverage of choice for the sailors.
  3. “Joe” is a derivation of Java: a term used by Americans for coffee during the 19th century when the island of Java in Indonesia was the major source of world’s coffee.
  4. A mispronunciation of “Cappuccino” -- a coffee drink with micro-foamed milk, or “Chaud” -- a French term for “hot”.
  5. Named after Joe Martinson who owned a coffee company in New York where the aroma of roasted coffee saturated the neighborhood.  Oddly enough, his neighbors did not like the pungent smell so the term was used negatively.

So which of these theories do you think sound the most convincing?



  1. Jinny 27 March, 2018 at 06:49 Reply

    I always assumed it was a shortened form of jamocha. Along the same lines as thinking it came from Java. Jamocha was a popular coffee blend of the two best-selling coffee beans: java and mocha (which only tasted like chocolate – it didn’t have chocolate in it).

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