Why Is A Mug Of Coffee Nicknamed A Cup Of Joe?

Java. Brew. Café. Mud. Perk. Jitter juice. Caffeine. Fuel. Covfefe. — so many buzzworthy nicknames for coffee, one of the most popular beverages in the history of the world. In fact, according to Mental Floss, the average American (unsurprisingly) spends somewhere around $1,100 on coffee each year. There always seems to be a coffee shop within reach and they have become hot spots for dates, hangouts, work sessions, and just some good ol' R&R.

Coffee can be enjoyed around the clock in a seemingly infinite number of ways — black, sweetened with cream and sugar, jazzed up with a shot or two of espresso, and even infused into everyday foods (like coffee-rubbed ribs from Serious Eats or coffee cupcakes from Delish). Any way you take your coffee is totally up to you, which is the true essence of its beauty.

One moniker of the drink has a particularly fascinating background story. Joe — as in, "Wanna grab a cup of joe?" — is believed to have been coined over a century ago. So how did it come to be?

Here's how coffee became known as 'joe'

As many might have guessed, the term "cup of joe" is highly likely named after a real person. And the alleged origin story goes a little something like this...

Back in June 1914, during World War I, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels banned navy ships from serving alcoholic beverages in an effort to keep sailors sober, healthy, and alert. According to legend, this prohibition caused sailors to consume copious amounts of coffee in lieu of booze, per the expression dictionary Know Your Phrase. So, in a cheeky manner, the sailors nicknamed their new favorite caffeinated drink "Joe," after their strict leader Josephus.

Another theory states that, since Joe is such a common first name, a "cup of joe" is simply a drink enjoyed by both the wealthy and the common folk — or the average Joe. But let's be honest: that theory is not as fun. Next time you sip on a hot or cold cuppa joe, send up some thanks to Mr. Daniels.