What is a Red Eye Coffee, red eye coffee in a cup on table with coffee ground and beans

What is a Red Eye Coffee

A red eye coffee is a popular coffee drink made by combining drip coffee and a shot of espresso. The combination results in a bold, robust coffee experience that delivers an extra caffeine kick.

Red eye coffee has its devotees among coffee lovers who need an extra morning jolt or those who enjoy the layered flavors of coffee. It’s easy to make and customize to your preferences.

Key Takeaways: What is a red eye coffee

Category Key Takeaways
Definition A red eye coffee is drip coffee combined with a shot of espresso
Adding espresso to coffee gives it a bold, robust flavor with extra caffeine
The espresso creates a dark reddish hue, hence the name “red eye”
Preparation Brew a cup of regular drip coffee
Pull a shot of espresso (1-2 oz)
Combine the hot coffee and espresso
Can customize with milk, flavors, additional shots of espresso
Flavor Strong, intense flavor from the espresso
Layered tasting notes from coffee beans and espresso
Robust, bold, and energizing
Caffeine Content Roughly 120-260 mg caffeine in a typical 8 oz red eye
More caffeine than regular drip coffee
Extra espresso shots increase caffeine further
Best Beans Medium to dark roast coffee
Full-bodied espresso with nice crema
Complementary coffee and espresso beans
Health Impact Provides energy, antioxidants
Too much can cause jitters, insomnia
Best in moderation

What Makes a Red Eye Coffee Special

A red eye coffee gets its name from the shot of espresso added to regular drip coffee, which gives the drink a distinctive dark reddish hue.

Here are the key features that set it apart:

Extra caffeine

With a standard shot of espresso in addition to a cup of coffee, a red eye packs more caffeine than a regular cup of joe. The exact amount can vary based on the coffee used.

Strong, bold taste

The espresso intensifies the overall flavor and gives it a powerful punch. Robust coffee works best.

Layered flavors

The espresso adds depth to the coffee’s inherent tasting notes. You get the nuanced flavors of the coffee bean along with the thick crema of the espresso.

Quick to make

It’s an easy way to add espresso flavor to your routine cup of coffee.

The bolder, more intense nature of a red eye makes it perfect for those mornings when you need an extra boost.

How to Make a Red Eye Coffee

One of the appeals of a red eye is how simple it is to make.

Follow these steps for the classic version:

  • Brew a cup of regular drip coffee using your preferred roast and method (drip machine, French press, etc.)
  • Pull a shot of espresso – About 1-2 ounces is standard.
  • Combine the hot espresso and coffee – Carefully pour the espresso into the drip coffee and stir briefly.
  • Drink and enjoy!

And that’s all there is to it. The basic 1:1 ratio of a shot of espresso and a cup of coffee is a good starting point. Adjust to taste.

You can control the flavor and intensity of your red eye by:

  • Choosing a darker, bolder coffee roast – This holds up better to the espresso.
  • Using an intense espresso blend – Go for a robust option that complements the coffee.
  • Adding more espresso – For an extra boost, experiment with a 2:1 or even 3:1 coffee to espresso ratio.
  • Using a large coffee mug – Make a red eye in a 16 oz or 20 oz mug for a bolder diluted version.

Red Eye Variations

One of the great things about a red eye is how versatile it is. You can customize and expand on it to create an espresso-spiked coffee suited to your preferences.

Some popular red eye variations include:

  • Black Eye – Add an extra shot of espresso for an even stronger drink.
  • Dead Eye – Use 3 shots of espresso for a super concentrated brew.
  • Red Eye with Cream – Add a splash of cream or milk to mellow it out.
  • Iced Red Eye – Pour the hot red eye over ice for a chilled energizing drink.
  • Red Eye Latte – Combine with steamed milk for a creamy latte-like beverage.
  • Red Eye with Flavor – Stir in vanilla, caramel, or other syrups.

Feel free to get creative and use a red eye as a base for your own signature coffee drink.

The Best Coffee and Espresso for Red Eyes

The Best Coffee and Espresso for Red Eyes, dark road coffee beans

To get the most balanced and flavorful red eye, start with:

  • A medium to dark roast coffee – Go for a blend with robust, bold flavor to stand up to the espresso. Good options include:
    • French roast
    • Italian roast
    • Espresso roast
    • Full city or Vienna roast
  • A full-bodied espresso – Use an intense espresso with rich, thick crema. Look for darkly roasted beans with nice oiliness.

Here are some excellent coffee bean and espresso pairings for red eyes:

Coffee Beans Espresso Beans Tasting Notes
French Roast Dark Italian Roast Smoky, bittersweet, bold
House Blend Espresso Roast Rich, chocolatey, full body
Colombian Supremo Italian Espresso Smooth, caramel, bright acidity
Sumatran Mandheling Black Tiger Espresso Earthy, herbal, intense

Experiment to find your ideal coffee and espresso matchup. The bolder beans will brew the best red eyes.

Tips for Making the Perfect Red Eye

Follow these tips for getting the most flavor and caffeine punch out of your red eyes:

  • Use freshly roasted coffee beans within 2 weeks of the roast date.
  • Grind beans right before brewing for optimal freshness.
  • Brew coffee and pull espresso when you’re ready to combine them.
  • Stir gently after adding espresso to evenly integrate flavors.
  • Drink immediately – The crema from the espresso will dissipate quickly.
  • Clean equipment like your coffee maker and espresso machine regularly.
  • Store beans properly in a cool, dark place in an airtight container.
  • Adjust amounts to taste – add more espresso for a stronger drink.
  • Have fun experimenting with different beans, brew methods, and customizations.

With high-quality beans and the right techniques, you can make cafe-quality red eyes at home.

The Health Benefits and Drawbacks of Red Eye Coffee

Like all caffeinated drinks, red eye coffee has both pros and cons when it comes to your health. Let’s break it down:

Potential Benefits

  • Increased energy and alertness from the extra caffeine.
  • Antioxidants from the coffee.
  • May support brain function and fat burning.
  • Provides B vitamins, magnesium, and other nutrients.

Potential Drawbacks

  • Too much caffeine can cause jitters, insomnia, etc.
  • May irritate digestive system in some people.
  • Can increase blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Addictive potential of caffeine.

Tips for Healthier Enjoyment

  • Limit to 1-2 red eyes per day max.
  • Don’t drink too late in the day – caffeine disrupts sleep.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Use skim milk or low-fat creamers.
  • Sweeten with honey or maple syrup instead of sugar.

Overall, red eye coffee is fine in moderation as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Just be mindful of your caffeine intake.

Red Eye Alternatives

Red Eye Alternatives, pouring Green tea into a cup

If you want to cut down on caffeine or just mix up your routine, consider these energizing alternatives to red eye coffee:

  • Green tea – Lower in caffeine but still gives an energy boost.
  • Yerba mate – Contains caffeine with other healthy compounds.
  • Matcha latte – Provides natural caffeine plus antioxidants.
  • Chai tea latte – Spiced black tea gives you a lift.
  • Caffeinated water – Lightly caffeinated without coffee flavor.
  • Energy bites – Snack on nuts, oats, chocolate for sustained energy.
  • Cold brew coffee – Smooth, less acidic coffee.
  • Decaf coffee – All the flavor without the caffeine.
  • L-theanine supplement – Pairs well with coffee to promote alert calm.

So feel free to switch up your drinks if you need a break from red eyes but still want an energy lift.


A red eye coffee is a simple yet powerful way to kickstart your morning or whenever you need an energizing boost. With its double shot of coffee and espresso, robust taste, and concentrated caffeine, this drink really opens your eyes!

Follow the tips in this guide to brew red eyes like a pro. Experiment with different beans, ratios, and customizations to make it your own.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is a red eye the same as a shot in the dark?

Yes, these names refer to the same drink – coffee with an added shot of espresso.

Q2. How much caffeine is in a red eye?

With 8-15 mg caffeine per ounce of drip coffee and 40-75 mg per shot of espresso, a typical 8 oz red eye with 1 shot contains about 120-260 mg caffeine.

Q3. Is a red eye bad for you?

In moderation, red eyes are fine as part of a healthy lifestyle. But too much caffeine daily can cause issues like anxiety, insomnia, and heartburn.

Q4. Can I make a red eye with decaf coffee?

Yes, combining decaf coffee and espresso makes a flavorful drink without the same intense caffeine kick. The espresso still contains some caffeine.

Q5. What’s the difference between a red eye and a black eye?

A black eye has an extra shot of espresso added, making it even bolder and higher in caffeine.

Q6. What kind of roast is best for a red eye?

A medium to dark roast like a French or Italian roast works well. Lighter roasts can taste weak next to the strong espresso.

CEO at CoffeeLifious | simon@coffeelifious.com | Website | + posts

Simon is a coffee enthusiast who has spent years exploring the world of coffee. He has a deep passion for the art of brewing and enjoys experimenting with different brewing methods to create the perfect cup of coffee. His love for coffee has led him to become an expert in the field, and he is known for his meticulous attention to detail when it comes to selecting and brewing the perfect cup. Simon is also an avid traveler who loves incorporating new flavors and techniques into his brewing.

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