Ahhhh, there’s nothing I enjoy more in the morning than a good cuppa joe. It just starts my day off… What’s that? What’s a “cuppa joe”? Sorry. I was using American slang there.
A cuppa joe is a cup of coffee. Americans have been calling coffee “joe” for many years. Where did this come from? Well, linguists aren’t sure, but some of them think it is a shortening—or corruption—of the word “jamocha,” which means coffee.
Lots of companies use “joe” in their coffee marketing. My local Speedway gas station will sell you a commuter mug with “Joe” printed on the side; when you stop for refills with that mug, you get a discount on your coffee purchase.
Starbucks Coffee sponsors a morning talk show called “Morning Joe,” which features a political analyst named Joe Scarborough. Notice the letter “o” in the logo looks like a circular stain left by your coffee mug on the table.
There’s a coffee mug with Vice President Joe Biden’s picture on it. Hey, Joe, nice mug shot!
There’s even a Michigan coffee shop called Cuppa Joe.
So, now you’re wondering why is it spelled “cuppa”? That’s because the word “of” in the expression “cup of coffee” isn’t very important—it’s only a preposition, after all—so Americans just mumble that word, and it sort of sounds like “uh.”
So, the next time your American coworkers invite you for a cuppa joe, just say thanks and go along with them. Unless you’re a tea drinker. Then you can order a cuppa tea.