What is a Red Eye Coffee, Black Eye, and Dead Eye [Explained]

What is a Red Eye Coffee, Black Eye Coffee, and Dead Eye Coffee [Explained]

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If you’re a coffee drinker, then you’ve probably heard of Red Eye, Black Eye, and Dead Eye coffee. But what do these terms mean? And which one is the best?

In this article, we’ll help you identify the differences between Red Eye coffee, Black Eye coffee, and Dead Eye coffee and decide which one is right for you.

TL;DR: Red Eye coffee is black coffee + 1 espresso shot. Black Eye is black coffee + 2 shots. And Dead Eye is black coffee + 3 shots.

What’s with the odd names? And what should you keep in mind when making them. Read on if you’re curious.


What’s A Red Eye Coffee?

It’s a regular drip coffee with an extra shot of espresso added to it. If you’re looking for an energy boost, this is a great option. Many consider it to be as strong as a Cold Brew.

Just be warned that the extra caffeine can also make you more jittery and anxious than usual. So, it’s best to drink it in moderation.

If you’re sensitive to caffeine, you may want to stick to a regular coffee or decaf entirely.

A Red Eye coffee with a very prominent espresso crema

Why Do They Call It A Red Eye Coffee?

The name comes from the fact that the extra caffeine can give you a “jolt” of energy to stay awake throughout a red-eye flight.

If you’re not aware of this airline term, a red-eye flight is a long late-night commercial flight that gives you red eyes the next morning.

The drink first debuted as a Starbucks Secret Menu before becoming a common coffee shop drink in the US.

It’s now commonly consumed as a working person’s drink due to the affordability and the amount of caffeine that it can charge one with.

There’s also a regional variation of the name:

  • A “sludge cup” in Alaska
  • A “shot in the dark” on the West Coast

What Is In A Red Eye Coffee?

As mentioned above, it consists of regular brewed coffee (8 oz/237 ml) with a shot of espresso added to it.

But, some specialty coffee shops are more used to serving a double shot of espresso for espresso-based beverages. So that’s another variation of the drink.

If that strong cup is too much for you, make sure to clarify with the barista exactly what is included when ordering a Red Eye.

  1. Normal Drip Coffee

The drip coffee maker is still one of the most popular coffee brewing methods in the United States. In 2020, more than 40% of American coffee drinkers reportedly used it regularly to stay caffeinated.

So you can easily prepare a standard 8-oz cup of drip coffee for the Red Eye coffee at home without having to go to the coffee shops.

The black coffee has to be made with a drip machine

If you’re looking for a better quality drip coffee machine, check out our expert list of the top drip devices in the market, available at multiple price points!

For the single users who prioritize convenience and speed, you can also make brewed coffee using a single-cup brewer.

Keep in mind that it has to be drip coffee, so it can’t be made with a French Press or Pour-Over device.

In terms of coffee, for the best results, I recommend using:

  • Arabica coffee beans
  • A medium roast profile
  • A medium grind size

Make sure to buy whole bean coffee and grind it right before brewing for the freshest brewed coffee.

The Golden Ratio for coffee is 1 – 2 tablespoons (5 – 10 g) of ground coffee for every 6 oz (177 ml) of water. Feel free to adjust it to get your preferred brew strength.

  1. Espresso

Red Eye coffee drink also calls for either a single or double shot of espresso poured over the drip coffee.

Again, the single shot of espresso is often the standard for the infamous Red Eye. But there are enough coffee shops out there serving it with double shots to notify you of this information.

You can do it with an espresso machine. Unlike the easy-going drip machines, this brewing method takes more practice to master, unless you’re using a fully-automatic machine.

Make espresso with an espresso machine

In terms of coffee for espresso, you should use:

  • 100% Arabica beans (for a milder flavor) or a blend of both Arabica and Robusta beans (for a traditionally stronger flavor)
  • A dark roast profile
  • A fine grind size

And, like I would suggest with every brewing method, buy whole beans, invest in a quality burr grinder, and grind the beans right before brewing.

The Golden coffee-to-water ratio for a normal espresso shot is 1:3.

What Does A Red Eye Coffee Taste Like?

The tastes can vary depending on how the coffee is brewed and what kind of espresso is used.

In general, you can expect it to be more intense and richer than a regular coffee. The espresso will add bitterness to the coffee, and the extra shot of caffeine may make it slightly acidic.

If you’re looking for a strong coffee with a bit of a kick, then a Red Eye is a good choice. Some people also like to add a dash of milk or cream to combat the bold flavors.

How To Make Red Eye Coffee

 Pour espresso over drip coffee to make a Red Eye coffee
  • Step 1: Prepare enough ground coffee and water and turn on the coffee machines.
  • Step 2: Brew a pot or an 8-oz cup of regular coffee using your preferred method (drip machine, Keurig, etc.). Depending on how much volume you’re brewing, the process should take from 3 to 8 minutes.
  • Step 3: While waiting for Step 2 to finish, pull one shot or two shots of espresso depending on what you’re used to. I recommend starting with one shot if this is your first time.
  • Step 4: Pour the espresso over the brewed coffee and give it a gentle stir. Feel free to add some cream, milk, or sugar. And enjoy!

What Is A Black Eye Coffee?

Similar to the Red Eye, it’s a type of coffee drink that includes a double shot of espresso combined with a drip coffee.

It’s a popular choice for coffee drinkers who want an extra-extra boost of energy, as the espresso provides a caffeine kick.

The drink can also be customized by adding different flavors of syrup or milk like the Red Eye.

A Black Eye coffee

The key to making a good Black Eye is to make sure that the espresso shot is freshly brewed and that it is added to the coffee while it is still hot. If you add the espresso shot after the coffee has cooled, it will not have the same effect.

Why Is It Called A Black Eye Coffee?

The name comes from the fact that the espresso shot when poured over the coffee creates a dark “ring” or “shadow” that looks like a black eye.

What Is In A Black Eye Coffee?

A Black Eye cup is made with a standard cup of drip Joe and two shots of espresso.

You can find more details about each ingredient in the What Is In A Red Eye Coffee? Section above.

  Pour 2 espresso shots over drip coffee to make a Black Eye coffee

What Does A Black Eye Coffee Taste Like?

The answer is pretty similar to the Red Eye’s. Though the taste depends on what kind of coffee you use for the regular brew and espresso, generally, it’s much stronger and bolder than the regular Joe.

If you’re making the espresso shots with a rich and smoky, they’ll likely overpower the drip brew.

How To Make Black Eye Coffee

Follow my step-by-step instructions in the How To Make Red Eye Coffee section above, but instead of one espresso shot, make two.


What’s A Dead Eye Coffee?

It’s pretty much an extended version of the Red Eye and Black Eye coffees.

It involves a regular black cup and three shots of espresso.

The insanely high caffeine concentration can give you an effective boost of energy without the need for drinking multiple cups of coffee.

 A Dead Eye or Green Eye coffee

But, such a strong hit can result in a very dark ending for some. So, keep that in mind when you decide to give this cup of coffee a try.

Why Is It Called Dead Eye Coffee?

Like I’ve said, your outlook can be very dark when you drink a cup of Dead Eye. The high caffeine concentration, especially when consumed regularly, can lead to organ failure, and you’ll be “Dead Eye”.

That being said, as long as you’re sure that you’re not sensitive to caffeine and don’t drink it often, you should be fine. Otherwise, consult with your healthcare provider before giving it a try.

The drink can also be commonly referred to as “Green Eye coffee” at Starbucks. It’s in fact another Starbucks Secret Menu.

But, names can vary from one coffee shop to another, so you should clarify with the barista to avoid consuming anything that’s out of your caffeine limit.

What’s In A Dead Eye Coffee?

A Dead Eye cup features 8 oz of regular black coffee and three shots of espresso.

You can find more details about each ingredient in the What Is In A Red Eye Coffee? section above.

What Does Dead Eye Coffee Taste Like?

As you can probably tell, you can expect a very strong flavor and a heavy body, due to the espresso overpowering the black drip.

You can add some cream and sugar so that it’s easier to sweeten the flavor, making it easier to drink.

How Do You Make Dead Eye Coffee?

Follow my step-by-step instructions in the How To Make Red Eye Coffee section above, but instead of one espresso shot, make three!


To Wrap Up

So, basically, each drink is just a cup of coffee + extra espresso added on top. Here’s a summary to help you catch up:

  • Red Eye = 8-oz cup of coffee + a single shot of espresso
  • Black Eye = 8-oz cup of coffee + 2 espresso shots
  • Dead Eye/Green Eye coffee = 8-oz cup of coffee + 3 shots of espresso

If you want to give these powerful drinks a try, start from a Red Eye and work your way up!

And if these are too much, check out other ways to make your coffee strong.


FAQs

How Much Caffeine Is In A Red Eye Coffee?

A Red Eye can have around 153 – 183 mg of caffeine. On average, an 8-oz cup contains 90 – 120 mg and an espresso shot contains 63 mg.

How Much Caffeine Is In A Black Eye?

A Black Eye can have around 216 – 246 mg of caffeine. On average, an 8-oz cup contains 90 – 120 mg and an espresso shot contains 63 mg.

How Much Caffeine Is In A Dead Eye Coffee?

A Black Eye can have around 216 – 246 mg of caffeine. On average, an 8-oz cup contains 90 – 120 mg and an espresso shot contains 63 mg.

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