Why is “joe” a nickname for coffee, as in “a cup of joe”?

A. Originally South African (Johannesburg) slang for wine, the word joe was adopted by coffee importers who specialized in African Arabica beans in the 18th century.

B. Joe was the nickname given to coffee by American servicemen stationed along the Rhine in Germany (where Johannisberg riesling is made) during World War II.

C. Joe was a famous Italian barista from the Friuli region of Italy, noted for its wine and coffee bars.

D. Joe refers to a former secretary of the US Navy who wanted soldiers to drink coffee instead of wine and alcohol.


Joe refers to Josephus Daniels, former secretary of the US Navy under president Woodrow Wilson. During the World War I era, Daniels tried to reform the Navy morally. He increased the number of chaplains, discouraged prostitution at naval bases, and, most controversially, banned the consumption of wine and alcohol, suggesting that soldiers would be better off drinking coffee instead. For soldiers, a “cup of joe” became a frequent part of daily life.

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