Friday, May 21, 2010

Cup of Who???

As you know, I live in Seattle. And as you may have heard, we like our coffee. We like our coffee, a lot. Arguably the most popular coffee conglomerate, Starbucks Coffee Company, started here. According to the 2006 US census, we’re the most educated city in the country, boasting a population in which more than half have a bachelor’s degree or higher. That’s a lot of study sessions at the (always full!) local coffee house. According to a Central Connecticut State University survey, Seattle is the most literate city in the country: we read the most books, offer the most publications, and have the most used public library in the country. And you know what goes best with a good book? A cup of Joe.

A cup of who? Who the heck is Joe and when did we decide to give our beloved, dark nectar a nickname as generic and common as “Joe”?

There are many theories as to where this moniker originated. One of which, is that the government is to blame (of course, a usual suspect). In 1914, the secretary of the US Navy, Admiral Joseph ‘Joe’ Daniels, abolished wine provisions. Since the strongest drink now available on deck was coffee, shipmates commonly referred to it as “a cup of Joe” after the admiral himself.

During World War II, GIs’ were offered as much coffee as they wanted. Perhaps this was where "Joe" was born. One theory says since the drink was so readily available, all the men began calling it “a cup of Joe” because it was everyman’s drink. A drink every regular Joe could get his hands on.

It also may have acquired the name “Joe” after the owner of the popular New York coffee company, Joe Martinson, of the famed Martinson’s Coffee. "Cup of coffee" and "cup of Joe" were used interchangeably, much like some of us today mask our addiction to coffee by reffering to it as an addiction to Starbucks. What, does the green mermaid make you feel all tingly? You can't live without the "made from recycled material" cup sleeves? You don't fool me.

The strongest most accepted theory is unfortunately also the least interesting. It seems the mysterious “Joe” may just be a byproduct of a corruption of two other nicknames, Java and Jamoke. Apparently, we’re just too damn lazy to ask for a cup of Jamoke so we shorten the slang to the one syllable “Joe.” Idk, but I may detect a trend in lazy speech patterns but w/e. It’s nbd. TTYL!

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