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Remembrance: coffee and war

As we honour our women and men that served in the Canadian Armed Forces we'd like to take the time to explore coffee's relationship with war.

For the soldier in the field, the sailor on watch, or the aircrew operating on little sleep, coffee has become not only a refresher and an alertness aid but, as with the public at large, it's evolved into a social fulcrum around which conversations turn and good times, brief but memorable, roll.

The expression "cuppa joe" has several theories, a few of them steeped in military lore. One theory is that when the then US Navy Secretary, Josephus Daniels, banned alcohol on ships in 1914, the sailors drank coffee instead and referred to it as a "cup of joe".

Another theory is that the instant coffee served was made by George Washington Refining Company and referred to it as a cup of George, later shortening it to Geo. This corrupted further to "joe".

One final belief is that it was named after US soldiers that were nicknamed GI Joes.

The Royal Canadian Legion Operational Stress Injury Special Section has launched a program to help Veterans gather to enjoy peer support, while sipping coffee. Buddy Check Coffee is a veteran run program allowing networking and the sharing of experiences and stories.

While coffee certainly didn't win wars it certainly made the lives of those in danger a little more tolerable during and after the battle.