Widgets Magazine
MIGHTY HISTORY

This is why the term 'cup of Joe' came from disgruntled sailors

Coffee is, without question, one of the most popular drinks in the entire world. Service members around the globe wake up every morning to enjoy a tasty cup of the brewed beverage and drink it throughout the day to get a critical mid-day boost.

It's reported that coffee was discovered centuries ago on the Ethiopian plateau — which covers the majority of the country and the Horn of Africa — by a goat herder named Kaldi. After his goats ate the beans from a nearby tree, they had crazy energy that kept them from falling sleep. Humans gave it a shot and, unsurprisingly, felt the same things.

Since then, the bean has been sold throughout the world. People of all ages consume countless gallons of the special drink we commonly refer to as a "cup of Joe." But have you ever wondered where that nickname came from?

Turns out, it was used long ago as a way to talk sh*t about a man who changed Naval history forever.


There's nothing troops like more than a hot cup of coffee on a cold morning.

Way back in the day, drinking alcohol on Navy ships was the norm for sailors. However, during President Woodrow Wilson's administration, Josephus Daniels was appointed as the newest Secretary of the Navy.

After he took the position, Daniels decided that the United States needed to clean up a negative image surrounding sailors. To do this, he increased the number of religious chaplains in service, (officially) banned prostitutes from Naval bases and, worst of all, banned personnel from consuming alcohol on vessels.

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels(Hampton Roads Naval Museum)

Although sailors hated the idea (big shocker), General Order 99 was issued on Jun. 1, 1914.

Because of the alcohol ban, sailors found their beverage options very limited on ships — but they had plenty of coffee to sip on. In the absence of anything stiffer, a cup of black coffee was strongest option for sailors. So, they began referring to it as a "cup of Josephus Daniels" as a bitter reminder of the man who took the booze away.

As time passed, the insult was shortened to, simply, a "cup of Joe" — a term we use today.