A cup of 'Joe,' please: The U.S. military's love affair with coffee

Coffee and the U.S. military have enjoyed a long history together. Photo credit DeCA

By Tamara Eastman, DeCA historian

Many people reach for a hot cup of coffee in the morning to help jumpstart their day. In fact, according to coffeeresearch.org Americans on average tend to consume about 3 cups of coffee each day.

“Coffee and the military go together like the commissary and patron savings,” said Marine Sgt. Maj. Michael R. Saucedo, senior enlisted advisor to the DeCA director.

The military’s love affair with coffee dates back to the Revolutionary War.

Podcast Episode
Meet the Navy Veteran who sings for Presidents, Peace & Snoop Dogg
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

Before the war, coffee was the first choice of beverage for George Washington and his wife, Martha, and he became an importer of coffee. In 1770 Washington received 200 pounds of coffee beans at his home. Martha Washington considered herself a coffee aficionado and established her own set of guidelines for the perfect roast.

By the time the Civil War broke out, coffee was a very popular beverage in the U.S. and it was extremely popular among the soldiers on both sides. Coffee prices escalated as supplies dwindled. For example, according to civilwartalk.com, the price per pound in 1861 was $3; in 1862, $1.50 to $4; in 1863, $5 to $30; and in 1864, $12 to $60. By 1863, the Union Army had an abundance of coffee beans, with Union soldiers receiving 36 pounds of coffee each year in their rations.