The first questions about slang terms are where did they come from and how did they originate. Where they originated covers a wide spectrum of places. Some started by military groups during wars while others originated in both men’s and women’s prisons. Others originated in foreign countries, by college students or just 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 when drinking coffee. Some words are more a description than slang. Of the hundreds of terms, those mentioned here a just a sampling.
Slang names that come from where the coffee is grown or made include Java and Cocoa Java from Java Island in Indonesia. Kaffee comes from Switzerland while a Manila comes from the Philippines. An Americano is regular coffee as brewed in America while the Kona comes from coffee grown and brewed on the Kona Coast of Hawaii. Kahwa, which is a French slang word for coffee, actually comes from the Egyptian language that is spoken in the Korcafa area near Ethiopia.
A Cup of Joe or Cup of Jo has three stories about where the term originated. Some say it came from the Stephen Foster song Old Black Joe. Another theory holds that the beverage was nicknamed after Admiral Josephus “Joe” Daniels, who was secretary of the U.S. Navy. Others say Joe was a term used by soldiers during World War II. Joe was used as a name of a person that was always around, but whose name was never really known yet someone always being there when needed. Thus, a Cup of Joe or Cup of Jo was a drink that was always available. It later expanded to a Cup of Joe Black, for black coffee and Mojo along with other related terms using joe or jo.
Arbuckles became a slang term that cowboys used for coffee. It was the brand name of the coffee used on the trail. An added comment here; Arbuckles was the cowboy coffee because it came in patented airtight one pound packages of beans in a sturdy wooden crate of 100 packages that kept the coffee fresh.
Some terms used in prisons include mud, muddy water, morning mud and caffeinne, purposely spelled incorrectly. WormDirt, Blue Bag, after a brand that comes in blue, and many other terms have or are being used including those that have sexy or pornographic connotations.
The words Cuppa and Brew came from England and meant a cup of tea. Cuppa, Brew and Cup of… have, over time, come to mean coffee. Other slang words are more definitive than slang. These words include day starter, caffeine fix, wakey juice, cup of jolt, bean juice, daily energy or liquid energy. French words Café au lait means coffee with milk while Café Noir means black coffee makes them quite descriptive. Daily grind is more a pun-like term while the word Crap has a number of meanings and is often used in gambling establishments.
Despite all the modern drinks, the list of slang terms continues to grow. Some of the more resent coffee slang words that have come into use 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 pure espresso.