The Continental Congress declared coffee America’s national drink after a little incident called the Boston Tea Party back in 1773. But why do we Americans call it a cup of Joe?
There are two leading theories on this, one more interesting than the other. The boring explanation is that Joe simply means the average man, and coffee is the drink of this average Joe.
The more interesting theory comes from lore surrounding the US Navy. Fact is that the US Navy once allowed wine aboard the ships. When Josephus Daniels, a former newspaper editor from North Carolina, was appointed Secretary of the Navy during World War I, he abolished this privileged. Lore postulates that the dissatisfied sailors began calling their coffee, which was usually substituted for the afternoon wine mess, a cup of Josephus Daniels. This phrase was said with disdain as it was meant as an insult. Eventually the slogan was shortened to cup of Joe. Some say this is merely a folk etymology, but other’s say that this is the actual history of a cup of Joe.