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The coffee universe is expanding, my friend. If you can’t distinguish cortado coffee from a flat white, can you even consider yourself a coffee connoisseur? But we get you. As with any other menace, the coffee aficionados have a rich jargon that sometimes can be hard to grasp. So, fear not! This article will give you an insider’s view of what is red eye coffee. So, shall we?

What is a Red Eye Coffee and how to make it?

Pulling an Espresso Shot

A red eye coffee is a simple yet powerful mixture of your usual drip coffee, enriched with an espresso shot. Make an 8-oz cup of coffee with a drip coffee maker. Then, add one shot of espresso inside. Voila! This concoction will keep you active and sharp. If you think one shot of espresso won’t cut it, boy do we have news for you:

  • The Black Eye Coffee is drip coffee with a double espresso shot inside.
  • Dead Eye Coffee is a drip coffee with a triple shot of espresso. Not for the weak-hearted.

If you own an espresso maker, or even better, a multi-purpose coffee machine, you can make a red eye coffee at home. For a classical approach, make a drip coffee and add a shot of espresso. If you feel wild and adventurous, make a shot of espresso in a large cup and then add drip coffee to it. Some baristas swear there is a difference in taste. We haven’t noticed.

Red Eye Coffee History

Have you ever taken an all-night flight? Let’s say from the East Coast to the West Coast of the USA? Night flights have their perks, as you don’t have to waste time in traffic jams or stay in hotels overnight. A couple of decades ago, the plane seats were not so comfy, and sleeping wasn’t an option. So, both passengers and cabin staff would just crawl out of the plane, looking like zombies. The whole night of insomnia made them grumpy, and their eyes were red. So, flight companies started serving drip coffee with a shot of espresso during the night flights. Thus, red eye coffee was invented.

Night Flight

Nowadays, the planes are much comfier, and the Visine drops will cure your red eye, but the nickname persists.

Black eye got its name by pure visual coincidence. When you pour a double espresso in a drip coffee, a black ring will emerge on the surface.

The dead eye was named by the presumption that your body organs will fail after consuming too much of it. Of course, Starbucks calls it a Green eye purely for marketing purposes.

How much caffeine does a Red Eye Coffee Drink have?

Red Eye Coffee Drink

Your usual dose of drip coffee (8 oz) will contain around 95 mg of caffeine. Espresso (1 oz) has around 63 mg, give or take. So:

  • Red Eye Coffee has around 158 mg of caffeine.
  • Black Eye Coffee will have 221 mg of caffeine.
  • Dead Eye Coffee will surprise you with whopping 284 mg of caffeine.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) advises not to consume more than 400 mg of caffeine daily. That’s especially important if you use a coffee with a higher percentage of caffeine or consume additional caffeine via tea, energy drinks, or even chocolate. Too much caffeine will increase your heart rate, make you sweat, and even cause anxiety attacks. Death by overdosing on coffee hasn’t ever been recorded. However, caffeine overdose has its side effects, and they are not so funny.

Who drinks Red Eye Coffee?

The common working joes that need waking up before long and tiring 9-to-5. Students who just discovered they have 12 hours before the exam, and they know nothing(…Jon Snow). People who took night flights from one coast to another in times when smoking was still allowed in planes. Basically, everyone yearning for that caffeine kick, but with little or no time or money to stuff himself with espressos.

Different names for the same Coffee Drink

a glass of red eye coffee

Although the red eye is a famous expression, not every corner of the earth is familiar with it. The second most usual term for a red eye coffee is the hammerhead. Outside of the USA, you will have to emphasize you want a drip coffee with a shot of espresso. But in the States, you’ll have to learn a term or two:

  • In Alaska, you’ll have to order a sludge cup. Freezing cold in winter and snow mosquitos in summer is a cry for a stronger coffee.
  • In the northwest states, order shot in the dark. For more espresso, order a double or triple shot in the dark.
  • On the northeast, the term you will be using is mondo. Can’t explain the term. Just go with the flow.
  • Southwest states also use the term shot in the dark.

Other, less known names include Canadiano, stink eye, train wreck, oil spill, depth chargeor double drip. If you order just red eye and forget the ‘coffee’ part, you might get a beer with tomato juice inside. That’s an ancient cure for a hangover, called simply red eye. Also, Down Under, Red Eye is a brand of energy drinks. So, confusion is possible.

Red Eye Coffee FAQ

What is a Canadiano?

Canadiano is the same drink as Red Eye Coffee. It’s one of the surprisingly rare dad jokes in the coffee jargon. As Americans add water to espresso and call it an Americano, Canadians add drip coffee to espresso and call it Canadiano.

Can I get a Red Eye Coffee at Starbucks?

Of course. In the past, it was a part of Starbucks ’ secret menu, but now, it became usual. FYI, some Starbucks recipes include adding cream or milk to the red eye coffee. If you want to leave the milk out of the equation, warn the barista.

What is the most caffeinated drink in the world?

The title goes to DynaPep energy drink. DynaPep has a fascinating 714.3 mg of caffeine per (fluid) ounce. Yes, you read it right. Fortunately, it is sold in 0,14-ounce microdoses. To compare, an ounce of drip coffee has around 12 mg of caffeine.


Although it sounds like an energy drink with extra steps, red eye coffee will surprise you with flavor variety. Especially if you use medium roast specialty coffee and combine it with a full-bodied espresso. The red eye also pairs well with creamers or even liqueurs like Bailey’s or Kahlua. So, experiment and find the mix that suits your taste buds the most.


What Is A Red Eye Coffee?

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