Mocha, Java, Joe



Why Do We Call Coffee 'a Cup of Joe'?

Coffee is a predominant feature of American culture, regardless of ethnicity, income level or region. There are tens of thousands of coffee houses and other spaces devoted to the caffeine-laden drink (or to decaffeinated). 

Millions of people buy expensive coffees every day at upscale coffee outlets. Millions more grind their own beans. Coffee is almost an American obsession. But coffee is often not called coffee. It’s sometimes called mocha, java or just plain Joe. 

Where do those names come from? Mocha comes from a port in Yemen, on the Red Sea, which once exported quantities of coffee. Java refers to the Indonesian island of Java, which produced coffee for export during the era when Indonesia was a Dutch colony. 

There are a number of theories about the origin of Joe, as in cuppa joe. There’s one story that it comes from Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy who banned alcohol on American Navy ships in 1914, and disgruntled sailors used his name to refer to the coffee that replaced it. It’s a lovely story, but isn’t true. The truth is, we just don’t know how Joe came to be connected to a cup of coffee.

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