Here’s a helpful article that outlines other words for coffee.
I don’t mean the different types of coffee, like latte, cappuccino, espresso, etc.
I mean the terms that people sometimes use to refer to coffee in general.
We’ve done a ton of research and put together a list of 16 commonly used terms that also mean “coffee”.
And as a treat, we’ve also added another list of 10 funny phrases you can use when you want to joke around. You’ll get an extra kick out of this second list if you’re a movie buff.
For a handy reference, here are the terms in table format.
You can use any term in the left column to refer to coffee. Feel free to mix it up! And the terms in the right column are amusing and entertaining ways to refer to different types of coffee.
If you want a quick explanation or outline of each term, keep reading.
Other words for coffee
Here’s a common coffee nickname that’s been around as far back as I can remember. Though it’s unclear where the term came from.
Many people reckon it originated back in 1914 when they banned alcohol on U.S. Navy ships. The strongest drink you could get was coffee, so Navy men started calling it “cup of joe” after Secretary of the Navy, Joe Daniels. Ol’ Joe imposed the alcohol ban so I guess sailors thought it was a funny way of undermining him.
Another theory is that “Joe” refers to the slang term used to describe regular guys (“he’s a regular Joe”). Coffee became a “cup of Joe” because regular people enjoyed it.
The origin of the term “Java” is pretty easy. Back in the day, the main source of coffee worldwide was Indonesia – specifically the island of Java. When coffee started getting popular in the 1800s most people were drinking coffee made from Indonesian beans.
As an aside, the first reference to the island of Java that I ever heard was in a movie called Krakatoa: East of Java. [LINK] Look it up!
Mug O’ Mud
I’ve never heard this term before. But that might be because I don’t live in the U.S. where it’s commonly used in diners. You’ll also hear truckers use the term “Mud” when talking about coffee.
There’s also a coffee shop in New York called Mud Coffee. Nice!
Here’s another explanation: “Mud” is a term given to coffee that has grinds left in the cup.
I’ll sometimes notice this when using French press coffee. In my experience, there’s usually sludge left at the end which tells me I probably need to upgrade my cafetiere. These grinds at the bottom of your cup look like mud, hence the nickname.
You can deliberately make this “mud” coffee by mixing coffee grinds in hot water. If done correctly, the grinds will stay at the bottom, leaving you to enjoy your tasty beverage.
This has my vote for coolest name on the list. Leaded means it’s regular coffee with caffeine, instead of decaf. As in, it’s “leaded” to fuel you up for the day so you’re ready to go baby!
This one (and the next) is an obvious reference to leaded vs unleaded petrol for filling up your car at a gas station.
There’s a coffee shop called Spinelli Coffee that has its origins in San Francisco. But I first discovered it in Singapore back in 2014. Here, in a Singapore Spinelli’s, is where I first saw the term “unleaded fuel”. Thinking back on it, I probably ambled in there to escape the sweaty air of Asia’s little red dot.
Anyway, “unleaded” fuel refers to decaf coffee, while “leaded” refers to regular, caffeinated coffee.
Wake Up Juice
Self-explanatory if you ask me. I always have a coffee first thing in the morning, between 5AM and 7AM. Then I’ll have two more before 12 noon to keep me going. Always great for waking myself up and staying alert for a few hours.
Again, this one is pretty obvious. If you’re like me then you enjoy drinking your coffee in the morning to “kickstart” your day. The caffeine helps you stay alert and energized.
And here’s a bonus tip: put on the song, Kickstart My Heart by Motley Crue while brewing your coffee for an extra jolt of adrenaline. Trust me ;).
You could also use the term “black gold” here, though “liquid gold” is more common. Either way, this one is a name that refers to the importance of coffee in kitchens worldwide. Coffee is often called “liquid gold” because of its high price and economic value in countries across the globe.
Café is the French word for coffee, and you can use this to sound superior to your friends and family. Let’s be honest, saying anything in French makes you sound superior (the French definitely think so!).
The only problem is café also refers to a coffee shop, so it could get confusing.
Technically speaking, “brew” is anything that’s brewed. So you could use this term to mean tea, coffee, or even beer.
Personally, I don’t use “brew” to mean beer – my preference is to use it for coffee since I drink coffee every morning. Note: if you drink beer every morning, you probably have bigger problems than trying to remember new coffee words.
Because coffee helps you “get up and go”! Get it?
I’m not a fan of this one (or the next one) since I hate using the word “juice” to refer to coffee. I feel like it cheapens an otherwise luxury beverage.
Same as above, but this time it’s referring specifically to the chemical stimulation effect that caffeine has on your brain.
Have you ever said to yourself, “man I really need a cup of morning jolt”? I never have, so I’m a little skeptical about this one. But I guess it makes sense since that’s what coffee does for you – it gives you a “jolt” of energy.
I’ve used this phrase more than any other on the list. I’ll often say to myself, “I really need a caffeine fix”, when I’m feeling tired.
A “fix” implies that you need something on a regular basis. And if you don’t get it soon then you’re going to be anxious until you do. While this sometimes refers to hard drugs, I think it applies equally well to caffeine.
“Rocket Fuel” can be used when talking about really strong brands of coffee – the stuff that will make you vibrate through solid matter.
Drinking these brands will give you enough energy to orbit the Earth, hence the name “rocket fuel”. Ha!
Another “juicy” term :). So not a favorite of mine.
If you drink a lot of coffee – more than 400 mg – you might get the jitters. So the name fits.
Amusing phrases for coffee
While Pacino was screaming “say hello to my little friend” in Scarface, coffee lovers were screaming “give me an Al Cappuccino” at their local barista. Or was that just me?
Next time you’re in your favorite coffee shop, you can try this out. Don’t scream though – maybe just ask politely ;).
Java The Hutt
You’re picturing Jabba the Hutt right now, aren’t you? While most of us coffee (and Star Wars) nerds wouldn’t describe Jabba as “cuddly”, you can definitely cuddle up with your next cup of Java while re-watching Return of the Jedi. A match made in heaven if you ask me.
Livin La Vida Mocha
Ah Ricky Martin. Livin La Vida Loca was a sexy song with a lot of bass – not unlike the Mocha, a drink that combines two of the greatest ingredients ever, chocolate and coffee. What’s not to love?
The Polar Espresso
I’ll admit this up front: I have never seen the movie, The Polar Express. But it must be pretty good if there’s a coffee phrase named after it. Hop on the Espresso train to coffee decadence and get your fix.
Smashing Pumpkin Spice Latte
I used to play bass when I was a teenager. Myself and my buddy Brendan, a drummer, would often jam to the Smashing Pumpkins. We weren’t drinking coffee at the time (we were already too amped up), but we definitely did justice to the song Geek U.S.A. Anyway, next time you hear the band on the radio grab a pumpkin spiced latte and rock out!
Harry Potter and coffee. Does it get any better? The greatest book series of all time now comes with its own coffee slang. I’m delighted they’ve got an espresso phrase that weaves the wizarding world together with the black stuff (coffee, not Guinness).
Meet Joe Black
Never seen the movie. And I’m not really a big Brad Pitt fan. Even so, I reckon the man who brought Tyler Durden to life would be proud to have a coffee phrase named after one of his characters.
Finally… a coffee named after a rap song. The Sugarhill Gang would appreciate the reference, though I don’t think a Frappuccino goes well with their dangerous lyrics.
Leonardo da Venti
Rumour has it that Leonardo da Vinci changed his name from da Venti because he hated coffee. I couldn’t find any data to back this up, so it may not be true ;). Either way, I’m ordering a Venti next time I go to Starbucks.
I only just rewatched Goodfellas, my #1 Scorsese movie. If you haven’t seen it, it’s probably still on Netflix.
So it’s fitting that BrewedFellas is my #1 pick on this list for funny coffee phrases. And it’s the best name ever for a coffee shop. In fact, I wish I knew about it when I was picking the name for this website. I like Moderno Coffee, but I would probably have picked BrewedFellas if I had to do it again.
Refer to the table above at any time when you want to brush up on your coffee lingo.
And if you really want to impress your friends and family (or make them a little nervous, haha), take one term each week and practice working it into your speech.
At the end of a few months, you’ll know more coffee lingo than your local barista.
Finally, don’t forget to check out our article on the strongest coffees on planet earth and 23 awesome things to do with your used coffee grounds.
See you next time.