What is red eye coffee

Here’s What Red Eye Coffee is [The Answer You Need]

If you are a beer lover, then you must have heard about the “Red Eye” that can help you after a long night out. Yet, a red eye coffee can also help you to sober up in the morning. But, wait – what is a red eye coffee?

A red eye coffee is a blend consisting of a cup of regular drip coffee with an additional shot of espresso added on top.

Other variations of this coffee drink include the “black eye” or “dead eye”  that incorporate 2 or 3 shots of espresso and higher amounts of caffeine.

But there is a lot more to discover about this unique mix of espresso and brewed coffee.

So let’s not waste any more time and see what the whole deal about this kickass drink is!

What’s the History of the Term “Red Eye”

In the beginning, the term “red eye” referred to the condition of severe exhaustion of the eye.

Have you ever had bloodshot eyes?

Well, people who regulate long flights (especially those in late-night departments) and the landing of airplanes are having bloodshot eyes almost on a daily basis!

And decades ago, traveling by plane wasn’t nearly comfortable as it is today.

People flying from the West Coast to New York used to get off their flights very tired and fatigued.

What is red eye coffee, woman with red eyes

This is Where Strong Coffee Came to Save the Day!

Thus, a cup of coffee with a shot of espresso was what kept the passengers and airplane workers awake for the whole night and helped them fight off fatigue to a certain degree.

So while this term was originally used to explain the eye fatigue of these folks, the intriguing phrase somehow slipped into the coffee and beer industry.

The high concentration of caffeine in the red eye coffee acts as a superb stimulant to keep you awake and alert.

No wonder some people call it the “eye-opener” as it improves concentration and keeps you awake.

It’s no wonder that a couple of years ago, Starbucks introduced its “Red Eye” drink to the world.

Thus, you can order either iced or hot Red Eye coffee at Starbucks.

And nowadays, numerous cafeterias have it on their menus as well.

Just ask your barista for a cup of coffee with an extra shot of espresso!

What is red eye coffee, a splash of coffee

What About the Variations of the Red Eye Coffee?

The black eye and the dead eye are the variants of the authentic red eye coffee.

Although all of them have a drip coffee base, they differ in the amount of espresso used:

  • Red eye coffee – 1 espresso shot
  • Black eye coffee – 2 espresso shots
  • Dead eye coffee (or green eye) – 3 espresso shots

The main difference between these alternatives is in the number of espresso shots that you add to the drip coffee base.

The red eye coffee stands for a strong cup of coffee where you add drip coffee to 1 shot of espresso.

Alternatively, you can add 1 shot of espresso to your cup of brewed coffee and it will have the same effect.

But when you add 2 shots of espresso to drip coffee with cream, you get the black eye coffee.

These 2 shots of espresso will create a circular black marking on top of your cup.

Or you can make a dead eye coffee by adding 3 shots of espresso to your drip coffee.

Dead eye coffee is also known as the green eye coffee, this variation is the bitterest as well and it boasts a hella strong kick of caffeine so it might be a good choice if you simply have to stay awake at all costs.

Yet, be careful… very careful!

It can make your heart pound like crazy due to the huge amounts of caffeine.

What is red eye coffee, a cup of coffee

How Much Caffeine is in the Red Eye Coffee?

A regular serving of the red eye coffee contains about 159 mg of caffeine.

On the other hand, black eye coffee contains roughly 223 mg of caffeine whilst the dead eye boasts around 287 mg of caffeine!

This means that although quite strong, the red eye coffee caffeine content is less potent than it’s more extreme cousins!

And when we take into account that a shot of espresso has 64 mg of caffeine and drip coffee 95 mg per serving, you can already tell why the red coffee variations can make your heart skip a beat.

However – note that you as a general rule of thumb should consume less than 400 mg of caffeine per day.

That means you should have no more than 2 cups of the red eye per day or 1 cup of the black/dead eye coffee drinks.

And if you exceed this threshold, you might potentially experience certain side effects such as stomach pain, rapid heart rate or nervousness.

What are the Alternative Names of the Red Eye Coffee?

People from different regions of the world gave the red eye coffee a couple of interesting alternative names such as:

  • A sludge cup (Alaska)
  • (Double) shot in the dark (Pacific Northwest, New Mexico, SW Colorado)
  • Wellard coffee (Whitemoor Mine)
  • Mondo (Northeast coast)
  • Oil spill (Kansas)
  • Train wreck (north California)
  • Stink eye (Oregon)
  • Double drip (Canada)
  • Hammerhead (elsewhere)

What is red eye coffee, woman drinking coffee

What Does the Red Eye Coffee Taste Like?

It tastes bright and acidic or bitter and smoky – depending on the roast you are using.

For example, when you mix dark roast coffee and espresso, you get an almost spicy, bitter and even nutty taste.

But with lighter roast, you get a sweet and nutty, more balanced taste of the red eye coffee.

The reason for this is simple – espresso enhances the features of the roast and flavor of your brewed cups.

However, most baristas mix medium roast coffee and espresso.

This way, you get a hint of all the good stuff and a more potable but still intense variant of the red eye.

Either way, this beverage tastes extra-rich and makes a penetrating impression on the palate.

What is red eye coffee, two jars filled with coffee beans

How to Make a Red Eye Coffee at Home?

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of coffee
  • 1 shot of espresso

Method #1


  1. Brew a cup of your favorite coffee
  2. Make a cup of espresso in your French press or espresso machine
  3. Swiftly pour the espresso shot directly into your coffee cup
  4. Enjoy the red eye!

Method #2

If you have a Keurig coffee machine, you can use it to brew both espresso and coffee – this is how you do it:

  1. Brew the coffee
  2. Follow up with a cup of espresso
  3. Pour it in your coffee and add anything additional of your choice

Whether it be sugar, cinnamon, vanilla or cream, these extras will make your red eye coffee even richer in terms of taste.

And it takes no more than 2-3 minutes to make your special cup of wakefulness.

Alternatively, you can add 2 shots or 3 shots of espresso if you want to make the black or dead eye coffee for a mega caffeine kick.


Okay, perhaps the overpowering taste of the red eye coffee might not be everyone’s cup of tea (pun intended).

And consuming it daily would be a bit mad as it features large amounts of caffeine.

Yet, there’s nothing wrong with having a cup of this drink every now and then, especially when you need something extra to boost your energy levels.

So – what do you think about the red eye coffee?

Are you a fan or do you prefer more traditional coffee drinks?

Leave your thoughts about this a bit mad but still a great coffee drink below!

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