Coffee. Coffee! A drink that need not go by any other name.
And yet… it does. Several, actually.
While the official word for coffee is remarkably similar in many, many languages around the world – some variation of koffie or café – the number of slang terms and different words for coffee more than compensates for the lack of linguistic diversity.
As long as coffee has been around, it seems, it has been inspiring people to clever turns of phrase. And passionate quotations.
So, if you’re tired of shouting the same basic “Coffee!” each morning when you crawl out of bed, here are some other words you can use to describe that morning cuppa that puts the smile on your face and the pep in your step.
See what I did there? I used this one in the intro.
Seriously, though, I’m probably going to get beaten by a Brit for daring to include this.
This term is just so darn British. And, since it is British, it obviously refers to a cuppa tea, not a cuppa coffee.
Some people have commandeered it for coffee, though….like me.
Use at your own peril.
This word just sounds cool. Like you’re headed off to an island jam session with a set of bongos.
Which makes sense. Because it’s the name of an island.
Coffee gets the nickname java from the Indonesian island of Java, which was one of the main growing and export regions for coffee beans when coffee started to spread around the world.
At one point, the term was certainly used to distinguish coffee grown on Java from coffee grown in other places, but eventually it became a generic synonym for the drink.
Mocha sounds cool too. So cool that chocolate decided to up and steal it.
Like java, the term ‘mocha’ for coffee is based on a place of origin. In this case the Port of Mocha (al-Makha) in Yemen, which served as the base for the country’s coffee exports from the 15th through 18th centuries.
The word legit has nothing to do with chocolate. At least, it didn’t until several recipes of the late-1800s combined coffee and chocolate, put “Mocha” in the recipe title, and muddled everyone’s brains.
Today, if you order a mocha in a coffee shop, you’re gonna get a chocolate coffee.
Which is fine. Because, the port of Mocha is no more, so there is no coffee you can legitimately call mocha anyway.
There was the word java. There was the word mocha. Some people in the late-1800s couldn’t decide which one sounded more chill and created the clipped compound jamocha.
It sounds like a ja-joke-a. But it really was that simple.
Over the years, the term also got shaken up with the offensive term “moke” and the derivative “jamoke” was used as an insult.
But when it first came into usage, jamocha was an innocent, if redundant, word for coffee.
There are a lot of urban legends about how “joe” became a coffee synonym.
But the written history from a 1931 Army Reserve Officer’s Manual gives the clearest evidence that the most simplistic of those legendary ways is the truth.
So, why is coffee called “cup of joe”?
There was the word java. There was the word mocha. Some people in the late-1800s combined them into jamocha.
Then, a few years later, some other people got lazy and dropped the “am” and the “cha,” and “jamocha” became “joe.”
Probably the Brits again. Do you know they say the word “Tottingham” as “Tot-am”?
6. Morning Brew
Along with being the name of ten and a half million morning shows, this is a phrase often used to refer to coffee.
Which is pretty funny, since it literally just describes what you’re doing (brewing) and when you’re doing it (morning).
Though, it does have some witchy connotations. Witches like making brews.
And coffee does hit that magic spell-like sweet spot.
7. Bean Juice
This slang term for coffee is pretty self-explanatory. And pretty literal. Coffee is, in fact, brewed from beans, so bean juice is an (almost) correct description.
You might want to be careful tossing this one around, though. This term has several other slang uses with very different meanings.
Nicknames for Coffee That are All About That Caffeine
Coffee has a lot of names that are based entirely on its power to caffeinate.
- Jitter Juice
- Brain Juice
- Go Juice
- Liquid Energy
- Morning Fix
- Morning Jolt
- Caffeine Infusion
- Rocket Fuel
Coffee Nicknames That Are All About Appearance
There are also a number of slang names for coffee based on its dark, murky looks.
Honestly, what you call coffee isn’t as important as how you brew it up. But knowing a few coffee synonyms can provide inspiration when it comes time to make up the invitations for your next coffee party.
Other people do have those, right?