What is red eye coffee

Red Eye Coffee – Everything You Need To Know

When the usual joe no longer cuts it, it’s time to crank it up a notch. Say hello to Red Eye coffee – the perfect fusion of drip coffee and espresso shot, guaranteed to give you the ultimate energy boost.

Learn how to make this energizing brew at home, discover its origins, and find all you need to know about Red Eye coffee.

What Is Red Eye Coffee?

Red eye coffee is a simple combination of drip coffee with one or two espresso shots depending upon the place you are ordering. It’s a high-octane, caffeine-fueled drink perfect for when you’re on the go and need an extra boost. You can add milk and sugar to your liking, but it’s typically served black. Most coffee drinks have European origins; however, red eye emerged in America and has been on the menu since the 90s.

What Does Red Eye Coffee Taste Like?

Red Eye, as expected, has hints of strong, bitter, and acidic notes of coffee, with the body of espresso surprisingly complementing each other. However, the taste depends on many factors, such as the types of beans, roast, grind size, and brewing method.

What Kind of Beans or Grounds Are Used For A Good Red Eye Coffee?

Since red eye coffee is simply a combination of two different types of coffee, it’s best to use the beans and grind size that makes the best drip coffee and espresso, respectively, here are some recommendations.

  • Use high-quality espresso beans and fine-grind size for the shots of espresso.
  • Use a good-quality medium to dark roast coffee for the drip component.
  • Consider buying specific Red Eye blends.
  • Grind the beans freshly for maximum flavor extraction.
  • Start with a 1:6-8 ratio of espresso to drip coffee, adjusting to taste.

Types Of Red Eye Coffee

With time, baristas experimented with the classic “Red Eye” coffee, resulting in different red eye variations, each with a unique flavor profile. Check out this table to learn about the various types of Red Eye coffee served across America.

Types of Red Eye Coffee Description
Classic Red Eye The traditional combination of one shot of espresso and drip coffee.
Black Eye A bolder version with two shots of espresso and drip coffee.
Dead Eye Even stronger version with three shots of espresso. In Starbucks it’s called a “Green Eye”.
Lazy Eye (Decaf Red Eye) Using decaffeinated coffee with one shot of espresso for a milder option.
Red Eye Latte Adding steamed milk to the mix for a creamy twist.
Iced Red Eye Chilled version for a refreshing coffee experience.
Custom Blends Exploring unique combinations and flavors to suit preferences.

What’s Red Eye Called Across Different States of America?

Do you know red eye coffee has various monikers? It’s fun but can be a bit confusing. Here is a summary for y’all.

Names of Red Eye Areas
Sludge Cup Alaska
Shot in the Dark Pacific Northwest
Double Shot in the Dark Pacific Northwest
Wellard Coffee Whitemoor Mine (reference to Eastenders)
Hammerhead Alternative name used in some regions
Stink Eye Horse Brass pub in Portland, Oregon
Custom Blends Northern California
Mondo Parts of the Northeast coast in the US
Oil Spill Ulysses, Kansas
Shot in the Dark Mountain Southwest (SW Colorado and parts of NM)
Double Drip Vancouver, Canada

Red Eye Coffee Vs Americano

The Americano is a combination of espresso with hot water. You can say it’s a diluted espresso. On the contrary, red eye combines drip coffee with a shot of espresso, making it super strong.

An alternative name for this coffee blend is the “Canadiano,” especially when the drip coffee is added to the espresso instead of the other way around. This playful name is a wordplay on the “Americano”.

How Much Caffeine is in Red Eye Coffee?

A classic red eye coffee with a double shot of espresso has about 200 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup. Here is the breakdown.

Caffeine Content:

  • Drip coffee (6 oz) has about 71.2 mg.
  • An espresso shot contains (1 oz) 63.6 mg.

Avid coffee lovers may develop a tolerance to caffeine, so you might need to monitor your coffee intake. Make sure you only consume the recommended 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day which is around two cups of Red Eye per day.

How Many Calories Are in Red Eye Coffee?

A standard Red Eye coffee contains minimal calories, around three calories in total. This is due to the negligible caloric content of espresso and black coffee.

Additional calories may be present if milk, cream, sugar, or other flavorings are added. Always check specific nutritional information for more precise calorie counts.

The History of Red Eye Coffee

History of Red Eye Coffee

Image credit – © Antoes

Red Eye Coffee gets its name from the infamous red-eye flights that span from the east coast to the west coast. As the tale goes, weary passengers on these late-night flights battled severe jet lag and found it hard to stay alert.

To tackle this, airlines began offering complimentary red eye coffee onboard. The added caffeine fix provided a much-needed energy boost, making the travel more tolerable.

However, it’s uncertain if this story holds absolute truth. Nevertheless, in the 1990s, Red Eye coffee became a rising trend and a favorite drink for those pulling all-nighters or seeking an extra morning jolt.

Who Invented Red Eye Coffee?

The exact inventor of Red Eye coffee is unknown, but it likely emerged in the 1990s in the United States. It was dubbed “shot in the dark” or “coffee with a shot,” even making its way into Starbucks’ secret menu.

Where Is the Red Eye Coffee From?

Red Eye coffee is believed to have originated in the United States. While its exact origin is unknown, it’s commonly associated with American coffee culture.

How To Make Red Eye Coffee?

How To Make Red Eye Coffee

Image credit – © Antoes

If you can brew drip coffee and pull an espresso shot, you can make red eye coffee. Here is how you can do it at home.

Step 1: Start with Drip Coffee

You can use any method to brew a cup of drip coffee. A 6 oz of drip coffee is the perfect dose to aim for. The grind size for drip coffee is medium-coarse, allowing for a balanced and flavorful extraction. 10.6 grams or 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds are enough for a single serving.

Some popular ways to make drip coffee are:

  • Automatic Drip Coffee Maker: Add water, coffee grounds, and let the machine brew the coffee.
  • Pour-Over: Place a filter in a dripper, add grounds, and pour hot water in a circular motion.
  • French Press: Combine coarse grounds and hot water, steep, then press the plunger to separate.
  • AeroPress: Insert a filter, add grounds and water, stir, and press through a plunger.
  • Cold Brew: Combine coarsely ground coffee with cold water, steep in the fridge for 12-24 hours, then strain

You can also add milk and sugar at this stage to your liking.

Step 2: Make an Espresso

To create a Red Eye coffee, pour a double espresso shot over drip coffee. For the espresso shot, use a 1:2 coffee-to-water ratio with finely ground 17g of coffee beans for a concentrated and flavorful extraction.

No espresso machine? Use AeroPress for a similar result. While it may not produce an exact replica of espresso, AeroPress can create a strong and concentrated coffee with some characteristics similar to espresso.

Red Eye Coffee Recipe

Red Eye Coffee

Print Pin
Prep Time: 5 minutes


  • Coffee maker or drip brewer
  • Espresso machine
  • Mug or coffee cup
  • Stirring spoon


  • 1 cup freshly brewed drip coffee
  • Two shots of espresso (approx. 2 ounces)


  • Brew 1 cup of drip coffee using your preferred method. Ensure the coffee is freshly brewed and ground to a medium-coarse consistency.
  • While the drip coffee is brewing, prepare the espresso shots using an espresso machine.
  • Pour the freshly brewed drip coffee into a large mug or coffee cup.
  • Carefully pull the two shots of espresso directly onto the brewed coffee
  • Use a stirring spoon to gently stir and combine the espresso and drip coffee
  • Optional: Customize your Red Eye coffee by adding milk, cream, or sweetener to your liking.


Serve immediately and enjoy your bold and energizing Red Eye coffee!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Triple Red Eye Coffee?

A "Triple Red Eye Coffee" is a coffee beverage made by adding three shots of espresso to a cup of regular drip coffee. It’s also known as “Dead Eye,” and in Starbucks’ secret menu, the same drink is called a “Green Eye.” or “Purple Eye coffee.”

How To Order Red Eye Coffee?

Simply order Red Eye coffee and specify the number of espresso shots you would like in the drink. You can also ask the barista for milk, cream, or sugar added to your coffee.

What Is the Difference Between Red Eye Coffee and Black Eye Coffee?

Red eye coffee combines one or two shots of espresso and drip coffee, depending on where you are ordering. While the black eye almost always has double shots of espresso.

What Is the Difference Between Red Eye Coffee and Dead Eye Coffee?

Red eye coffee typically contains one or two shots of espresso combined with regular drip coffee. In comparison, “Dead Eye” coffee consists of three shots of espresso added to the drip coffee, resulting in a stronger and more caffeinated beverage.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it—the captivating journey into the world of Red Eye coffee. Now you know what to expect when next time you order Red Eye on the go or make one at home using our guide. Red Eye typically has two shots. However, the exact naming and the number of espresso shots may vary depending on regional preferences or specific coffee shops. Make sure you are not drinking above the recommended amount. Cheers to your next coffee-filled adventure!