Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

cup of joe

Posted in drunken sailor, navy by bowsprite on 2010/09/23

Army’s version: this comes from “a cup of (Jolt Of Energy) joe.” Or, it is a drink as common as the “GI Joe.”
Does G.I. stand for Ground Infantry? General Issue? Galvanized Iron? Government Issued!

Navy’s version: this comes from the secretary of the US Navy, Admiral Josephus ‘Joe’ Daniels who banned the serving of alcohol on ships in 1914, serving nothing stronger than coffee (although the phrase is known to predate his service.)
thanks, Joe! this’s joe’s for you
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36 Responses

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  1. Celeste Maia said, on 2010/09/24 at 01:25

    Christina, what joy to receive your message! you must be a witch! How did you guess that under that absoloutely magic moon I arrived at Civitella Ranieri, where I will be a visual arts Fellow for the next 6 weeks. If you have the time, do google Civitella Ranieri and you will see this fantastic XV century castle where I am staying. Now imagine it under that moon. I had to pinch myself that I was not dreaming…

    So happy to hear from you! Helas, I am far away from the sea, but surrounded by Umbria beauty…

  2. Bob Easton said, on 2010/09/24 at 04:19

    cuppa cuppa!!!

    Was that a real question about G.I.? You’re so young that you probably never ran into Goverment Issue. All those weapons, supplies, clothes, right down to the plain white undies, were Goverment Issue.

    • bowsprite said, on 2010/09/26 at 07:57

      thank you, Bob! (and items were probably all american-made.)

  3. tugster said, on 2010/09/24 at 05:01

    other nicknames: Artificial sleep, bean soup, black gold, the black horse, black juice for hell, bucket of black snakes, caffeine sandwich, fourth cushion on the sofa of pleasure, go juice, jus de pipe (too strong coffee), nap suppressant, nerve oil, nut snake, Peruvian love drops, Swedish gasoline, Turkish black top and zoom

    h. de balzac: “Coffee falls into the stomach…ideas begin to move, things remembered arrive at full gallop… the shafts of wit start up like sharp-shooters, similies arise, the paper is covered with ink…”

    b. franklin: “Among the numerous luxuries of the table…coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions…is never followed by sadness, languor or debility.”

    m. helprin: “The voodoo priest and all his powders were as nothing compared to espresso, cappuccino, and mocha, which are stronger than all the religions of the world combined, and perhaps stronger than the human soul itself”

    want mo’ ?

    http://www.javaturtle.com/coffeetidbits.html

    • bowsprite said, on 2010/09/26 at 08:03

      give me a minute! i’m looking for Ben’s quote on beer. Sounded the same, minus the intoxication part.

  4. billcanoe said, on 2010/09/25 at 21:13

    Joe sent me running to my DICTIONARY OF AMERICANISMS and THE AMERICAN THESAURUS OF SLANG. Joe wasn’t in [gasp] the DOA but showed up plenty in the slang dictionary.

    Booze on USN ships? We haven’t had that spirit here since 1862. Uncle Josephus cut out the wine for the officers during WWI — just another thing the O-gang has to whine about.

    “If you’re going down to the mess deck, bring back an ‘Angela Davis’ for me.”
    “A what?”
    “Sheesh. Coffee. Black and bitter.”

  5. Barista Uno said, on 2010/09/25 at 21:28

    I see not a cup but a mug!

    • bowsprite said, on 2010/09/26 at 08:00

      i believe this saying predates the invention of the mug, you’re right!

  6. tugster said, on 2010/09/26 at 15:07

    … and one mug equals 3.1417 cups maybe …

  7. Cold is the Sea said, on 2010/09/26 at 20:01

    I read a Cold War-era sea story once where a sailor claimed that it was the practice of his ship never to wash out the coffee urn. He said that whenever it got too rank, they would throw the lid over the side (making the urn non-functional) and claim that it had been “lost at sea” so that they could justify getting a replacement in order not to wash it.

    There’s a quote in Robert Kaplan’s book “Hog Pilots and Blue Water Grunts” by a sailor who expresses the sentiment, “The Navy used to be run on Rum. Now it’s run on coffee. And THAT ain’t even free anymore!”

  8. Cold is the Sea said, on 2010/09/26 at 20:07

    Also, if you’re interested in an interesting essay on Adm. Daniels other enduring Naval legacies, try and hunt down an essay called “The Wreck of Uncle Josephus” by Sand Pebbles author Richard McKenna in a short story/essay collection called “The Left-Handed Monkey Wrench”. (There’s also a great short story about an anthropologist who falls for an engine room snipe…)

  9. frank@nycgarden said, on 2010/09/27 at 21:10

    Oh, Christina, I thought of you when I heard about this today:
    http://www.cmorrow.com/littlecharliefest/tootnblink.html

    Check it out, I think its up your galley!

  10. Capt. Mike said, on 2010/09/28 at 15:06

    When someone says to me how about a cup of JOE. I’m thinking they are asking “Java or Expresso” At least I think it fits the situation.

  11. tugster said, on 2010/09/29 at 08:37

    bowsprite–meet jed: http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/news/consumer/national-coffee-day

  12. Mage Bailey said, on 2010/09/29 at 10:38

    The notes are all just as interesting as the beautiful, rich mug of coffee.

  13. JED said, on 2010/09/29 at 12:08

    COFFEE. My most FORMIDABLE obsession. I roast it weekly at home.

    That story about ADM Daniels is well known in NAVY circles.

    On a warship you might hear and Old-schooler refer to it as Jamoke – which is a bastardization of JA(Java) and MOKE(mocha). When turned around you get Mocha Java, the world’s first coffee blend hailing beans from Java, Indonesia and Mocha, Yemen (NOT the cocoa flavor mocha)

    Coffee afloat aboard warships.
    1) Tradition dictates that the Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch (BMOW – lead enlisted watchstander) make the FIRST pot of coffee for the day just after midnight and in return for the courtesy, the Ship’s Cook polishes the ship’s bell on the fo’c’sle.
    2) Coffeepots ain’t ONLY thing unwashed. Many a NAVY Chief’s cup is stained on the inside a dark brown from the myriad cups of coffee consumed from it. All that is required is for it to be RINSED out. More than one ambitious young seaman as been verbally FLAYED when his or her CPO discovered that their cup had been dutifully scrubbed clean as EVERY CPO knows that the coffee tastes better when the inside of the cup ‘properly’ seasoned.

    The cups themselves become extensions of ourselves.

    MY first CO (Captain) aboard DDG42 MAHAN (late 80′s) had a cup he carried with him EVERYWHERE. It was from when he served in DDG2 ADAMS and the cup was a HEAVY diner-type cup that was festooned with decoration and decals commemorating the ship and his job title (Operations Officer).
    The day found me as BMOW (see above) on the bridge. AS usual I insure that CO has a full cup while on the bridge. It was lumpy day and we were top heavy anyway. CO makes the FATAL mistake of placing his EMPTY cup atop the bitch-box (21MC) thinking it would be safe. Ship takes heavy roll and the cup flies off the bitch-box and is now missile hazard flying through the air bound for the heavily matted deck. While the deck may have been matted none of the equipment mounts were and after bouncing twice it shattered when it hammered into a repeater mount.
    SILENCE blanketed bridge as we all watch CO reverently , SOLEMNLY collect all the pieces of his cup. He then begins to fruitlessly try and reassemble the pieces in the hopes that superglue might solve the problem. He finally surrenders when he realizes the cause is lost. As he departs the bridge, barely above a whisper we hear: “Officer of the Deck, I’ll be below”. We didn’t see him for the rest of the watch and it took a while for us all to For the remainder of his tour aboard he never sported another cup of any consequence, cheesy cup from home may be or more often than not the navy issued paper cups. There are old shipmates that I still stay in contact with who also remember that day like it was yesterday.

    Siempre buscando el buen cafe

    Jed

    • bowsprite said, on 2010/09/29 at 12:20

      ok. I am making you a mug with the ship doodle of your choice if it will help make you tell more tales. I know which boat; woiking on it. really (but you can also commission another ship.)

      • billcanoe said, on 2010/09/29 at 14:12

        OK, sea stories with coffee as the subject:

        1. On the THOMAS JEFFERSON (an FBM — ballistic missile sub which carried more destructive power than was expended by ALL sides in WWII) I was the QMOW (Quartermaster of the Watch — nothing like a BMOW, in that I had clean clothes and my knuckles did not drag on the deck). I brought a coffee cup onboard for my exclusive use. It was heavy white ceramic job with a big blue peace symbol on the side. Part of my job was to inform the weapons guys where we were so they would know where to send their junk. Everytime I updated them, I rasied my mug in a toast to victory.

        2. The FBM’s had two crews, and we’d swap the use of the boat every three months. Each “turn over” entailed a lot of work and, of course, a number of practical jokes. We took over the boat one time and didn’t find the “joke” for two weeks…. The coffee urn was bolted to the bulkhead and was only taken down every so often to rinse the build-up of grounds from the bottom. That was when we found the well worn sneaker.

      • bowsprite said, on 2010/09/29 at 19:23

        making mugs with blue peace signs sounds like a good idea, too.

  14. RickSp said, on 2010/09/30 at 08:39

    My strongest sensory memory of coffee on board ship was drinking strong coffee with condensed milk from a can back in the day when there was no refrigerator on the bridge. Thick, dark, and sweet. Wasn’t great coffee, but it did the job.

    The most important time of the day for the crew was always coffee time. Nothing could interrupt it. I always wondered what would happen if the order to abandon ship was given during coffee time. I would expect an AB to look at his watch and say “5 more minutes.”

    I used to enjoy walking through the pier shed at the old Mormac 23rd Street Terminal. Bags of green coffee beens were stacked on pallets for as far as the eye could see. The aroma was fantastic – dark, lush and green, smelling more like a jungle than anything else.

    Back in the break bulk days a mate had to know something about what cargoes could be stowed together. Some mates were better than others. I remember a panic one Sunday, when bagged coffee was being discharged in Savannah. They had also stored bagged antimony in the same holds and one of the bags of antimony had broken open and had dusted the bags of coffee with a white powder. A Coast Guard inspector asked what the white powder was and went nuts (as he should have). Antimony is related to arsenic and not recommended as a non-dairy creamer. Because they could not determine which bags had left the terminal, three or four instant coffee plants on the East Coast were immediately shut down until they could inspect all the incoming bags to make sure they weren’t adding antimony to the brew.

    And now I am going to get another cup of coffee.

  15. tugster said, on 2010/09/30 at 13:11

    tugster’s thoughts on coffee: an essential liquid and one i’m fussy about, i.e., it has to be either espresso, turkish chewables, or greek. the other best option is instant Nescafe .. sorry, but it’s my favorite. my real point though is to shift the comments if only here to appreciation of the coffee flower. walking anywhere near a coffee bush in full bloom is not far from breathing in fragrance of paradise. no perfume matches the essence of coffee flowers. if you, bowsprite, were to draw a spring of coffee bush with the flowers and infuse it with olfactory magic . . . ah!!!

  16. Dennis @ Marine Electronics said, on 2010/09/30 at 20:00

    Maybe I’m a little biased but I’ll go with the Army’s version. No one can create an acronym like the Army. So cuppa Joe had to originate with Jolt Of Energy.

  17. Vagabonde said, on 2010/10/03 at 18:42

    Interesting read – your post and all the comments. The first time I drank a cup of black coffee was in Turkey, it was Armenian coffee. I did not like it because the cup was tiny and I ate as much as I drank the coffee. But one of my father’s cousins turned my cup upside down and read my future. I still remember it as it made an impression on me, she said I would marry a foreigner, live in a foreign country and travel a lot. That’s was happened.

  18. Vagabonde said, on 2010/10/03 at 18:43

    I forgot to say I was 5 years old at the time.

    • billcanoe said, on 2010/10/07 at 17:02

      It had to be Turkey…..you get arrested for marrying a five-year-old in New York…

  19. Vagabonde said, on 2010/10/07 at 22:10

    Now that’s funny, Billcanoe.

  20. Vagabonde said, on 2010/10/11 at 12:21

    Thanks for coming to my blog and leaving a comment. I am answering you now as tomorrow we’ll be in New York City. Speaking of coffee I can’t wait to go to the grocery on the corner of where we stay, it’s called Zabar and they have many good varieties of coffee.

  21. Barista Uno said, on 2010/10/15 at 09:57

    I believe “G.I.” stands for Government Issue, not Government Issued.

    But what the heck? The important thing is the coffee!

  22. Mage Bailey said, on 2010/10/17 at 11:41

    Look at all these lovely new notes. I was going to stop by and tell you I missed you, but you are still raking in the enthusiasms. Love it….

    GI underwear was all OD green in WWII. By the time I got there post Korea, women could wear boring white. The coffee was the same…strong and stronger. One I met up with Army coffee, I dosed it thinner with cream and tons of sugar.

  23. tugster said, on 2010/10/18 at 17:10

    i asked the maitre dee to send over the server with a refill on my cup o joe. mine’s cold. a splash of absinthe on the coffee, nescafe . . . . that’d make me really happy.

  24. Seaman stains said, on 2011/10/17 at 22:45

    Two true coffee stories:
    My commanding officer a young jg told me to get him a cup of coffee in the mess deck while fighting a strong 15 plus sea. Upon my return he was shocked that this young dumb seaman could return with a full up all the way back to the bridge. I put a lid on it and removed it before entering the bridge but I told him I took a swallow before leaving the galley and spit it back into the up before I give it to him. He never asked me for a another cup again because he could never tell if I was kidding!

    While assigned on a coast guard cutter I received a call of a boat in distress and had to recall the crew, all 15 of them. Plus I started both engines, the generators, plotted the position, singled up the lines, tied everything down, warmed up the radios and radar. But I got written up and yelled out because I forgot one simple rule. Have the master chief coffe waitting for him on the bridge.All else is extra.


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