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Slang terms for coffee

The first questions about slang terms are where they come from and how they originated. Where they originated covers a wide spectrum of places. Some started by military groups during wars, while others originated in men’s and women’s prisons. Others originated in foreign countries, by college students, or simply by groups of people who felt they needed another name for their cup of coffee. This even includes people who don’t drink coffee for its taste, but for the reaction they get from drinking it. Some words are more of a description than a jargon. Of the hundreds of terms, the ones mentioned here are just a sample.

Slang names that come from where the coffee is grown or brewed include Java and Cocoa Java from the island of Java in Indonesia. Kaffee comes from Switzerland while Manila comes from the Philippines. An Americano is regular coffee brewed in the United States, while Kona comes from coffee grown and brewed on the Kona Coast in Hawaii. Kahwa, which is a French slang word for coffee, actually comes from the Egyptian language spoken in the Korcafa area near Ethiopia.

A Cup of Joe or Cup of Jo has three stories about the origin of the term. Some say it came from the Stephen Foster song Old Black Joe. Another theory holds that the drink was nicknamed after Admiral Josephus “Joe” Daniels, who was the US Secretary of the Navy. Others say that Joe was a term used by soldiers during World War II. Joe was used as the name of a person who was always around, but whose name was never really known, but someone who was always there when needed. Thus, a Cup of Joe or Cup of Jo was a drink that was always available. It was later expanded to Cup of Joe Black, for black coffee and Mojo along with other related terms using joe or jo.

Arbuckles became a slang term cowboys used for coffee. It was the brand of coffee used on the road. An additional comment here; Arbuckles was the cowboy coffee because it came in patented airtight one-pound bean packs in a sturdy 100-pack wooden box that kept the coffee fresh.

Some terms used in prisons include mud, cloudy water, morning mud, and caffeine, spelled incorrectly on purpose. WormDirt, Blue Bag, for a brand that comes in blue, and many other terms have been or are being used, including those that have sexy or pornographic connotations.

The words Cuppa and Brew come from England and mean a cup of tea. Cuppa, Brew and Cup of… have come, over time, to mean coffee. Other slang words are more definitive than slang. These words include day starter, caffeine fix, wakey juice, shake cup, bean juice, daily energy, or liquid energy. The French words Café au lait mean coffee with milk while Café Noir means black coffee making them quite descriptive. Daily grind is more of a pun-like term, whereas the word Crap has multiple meanings and is often used in gaming establishments.

Despite all the modern drinks, the list of slang terms continues to grow. Some of the more resentful coffee slang words that have been used include Rocket Fuel, which means strong coffee, and C8H10N4O2, which is the formula for caffeine. Now that espressos are a must drink, some slang names for them are Regular brew, Red Eye for one shot of espresso, Black Eye for two shots, and Glass Eye for three shots of straight espresso.

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