The military’s need for coffee has been well-documented for generations, dating all the way back to the American Revolution. (Getty Images) The secret to the United States military won’t be found locked inside a room at the Pentagon nor encrypted on a secure network behind a firewall.
It’s found in mugs on messy workstations, in the hands of a sailor half-asleep just off of watch and brewed in chow halls all over the globe.
“If the Taliban or al-Qaida ever poisoned the coffee supply, the entire military would be combat ineffective in less than a day,” Richard Siemion, a former Army infantry officer and combat veteran, joked in an interview with Military Times.
While Siemion’s analysis is based off no actual research, his observation, as one who spent seven years in uniform, speaks to the importance of the liquid fuel as the life blood of every military branch.
After the Boston Tea Party in 1773, Americans began drinking java more often because consuming tea, the drink of the enemy at the time, was considered un-American. The military, however, didn’t completely embrace its need for caffeine until the Civil War.
Coffee’s importance to morale was noted by Union cavalryman Ebenezer Nelson Gilpin, who wrote in a April 1865 diary entry that life without coffee was unbearable.
“Everything is chaos here,” he wrote. “We are reduced to quarter rations and no coffee… and nobody can soldier without coffee.”
Even eventual-President William McKinley was taught an important lesson while in making sure the Union fighting man was adequately caffeinated when, as a 19-year-old, McKinley delivered hot coffee to front-line soldiers.
Also of historical note is that the Navy coined one of the more well-known nicknames for the beverage after President Woodrow Wilson’s Navy secretary, Josephus Daniels, banned alcohol onboard ships at the outbreak of World War I.
Coffee stepped in to fill the void left by the much-preferred booze, and though the origin is disputed, old salts say that sailors, who were not exactly pleased with having their spirits taken away, referred to the replacement as a “cup of Joseph” in honor of Josephus, which was then shortened to “cup of Joe.”
While the Department of Defense is unable to provide statistical data of coffee consumption by brand per service member, an independent Military Times investigation uncovered some answers, starting with information from the Defense Logistics Agency, or DLA.
The DLA is a "logistics combat support agency, providing worldwide logistics support in both peacetime and wartime to the military services as well as several civilian agencies and foreign countries,” the agency’s website states. In short, the DLA connects with the coffee vendors that wind up supplying military installations.
With data obtained from the DLA, rankings were compiled showing which CONUS locations received the most coffee during fiscal year 2018. Rank is determined by the total pounds of coffee received, with number one being the greatest amount. > Fort Polk, Louisiana U.S. Army Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina Food Service Subsistence Activity, Fort Bragg, North Carolina Amphibious assault ship Kearsarge, Norfolk, Virginia Yakima […]