What is a Red Eye Coffee, and its Black/Dead Relatives?

Updated on: September 8, 2023
If you click on a product while reading this article and decide to buy it, we might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for all your support!
Red Eye Coffee

Coffee drinking has become such a huge part of our modern lives. And whether you prefer to drink your caffeine hot or cold, it’s always a delicious and indulgent treat - especially when it is made to your exact Red Eye coffee taste!

Regardless of whether you'd prefer to drink it hot or cold, a caffeine burst will keep you alert and get you ready to face the world.

But what should you do if you start to feel like you don't get the same effects from your coffee as you had before? 

Well, some people may suggest simply consuming additional cups of coffee. But how about putting in a shot (or three) of espresso into your coffee instead?

The main difference between the Red Eye, Black Eye, and Dead Eye coffees is the number of espresso shots added. Yes, the difference really is that small! But that isn't all we’ll be telling you in this article.

You will find out what each of the coffees is, the amount of caffeine in each drink, and also how to brew your own version of this coffee from the comfort of your own home.

Why “Eyes"?

We must admit that the name of each of these drinks can be a little strange if you aren’t familiar with the terms.

But that doesn’t take anything away from their delicious taste! In fact, the inclusion of “eyes” in each of the coffee names actually adds a little something extra mysterious!

These coffees are some of the simplest caffeine-packed drinks that you can order from your local shop or simply make at home, and they really do pack a punch in terms of their taste and their ability to provide an immediate caffeine fix.

Red Eye Coffee

The Red eye coffee drink is an extremely common drink. Think of it as if it is a simple Americano. Except, instead of hot water, you use brewed coffee.

It is a simple cup of your usual drip coffee but with an additional espresso shot. You can use cold or hot coffee in this drink - whatever you prefer. 

This particular coffee takes its name from the extra caffeine that is needed in order to remain awake during the overnight “red eye” flight that takes you from the West Coast all the way through to New York. 

However, this isn't its only name. It is also called a "Hammerhead" coffee. Catchy, right?

Black Eye Coffee

Black Eye Coffee

If you are after an immediate energy boost, then the Black Eye Coffee will be the perfect drink for you!

Black Eye Coffee provides you with more caffeine than your typical coffee cup and has more espresso than the Red Eye coffee listed above. Specifically, this drink contains two additional espresso shots. 

Now we've established what it is, you're probably wondering why it's called the Black Eye coffee. Its name is derived from the visual that you get when the two espresso shots are added into the drip coffee and form a dark ring on the surface of the liquid.

Dead Eye Coffee

So now that you know what Red and Black Eye coffees are, you've probably guessed what constitutes a Dead Eye coffee drink. But if you haven't, we're here to tell you.

Maybe it's a little self-explanatory, but this coffee is not something to be consumed lightly. In fact, it can be downright dangerous if you love the taste and aroma of an intense cup of Joe.

The Dead Eye Coffee, or Green Eye coffee as it is also known, has not just one or two, but three shots of espresso! This means it offers triple the amount of caffeine that a Red Eye coffee does.

It's no wonder it packs such a punch!

Caffeine Levels 

Now that we have established exactly what these three coffee drinks actually are, you may be wondering about the amount of caffeine they each contain. Don't worry, we got you!

There are many factors you need to consider if you're planning to order one of these drinks at Starbucks, or make one at home. In this instance, it's best to get straight to the basics:

  • An average mug of brewed coffee contains approximately eight ounces of liquid (240 ml) which is equal to approximately 95 mg of caffeine.
  • A single ounce of espresso (30ml) contains approximately 63 mg of caffeine in every shot. 

If you were to combine these two caffeine-fuelled drinks together then you would have an immense cup of Joe that will fall into one of the following categories:

  • Red Eye: 158 mg (95 mg + 63 mg)
  • Black Eye: 221 mg (95 mg + (63 mg x 2))
  • Dead Eye: 284 mg (95 mg + (63 mg x 3)) 

Additional Information

The above statistics may make you feel a little bit nervous about trying one of the caffeine-packed drinks. However, as long as you consume any one of these drinks at a moderate pace and responsibly, you'll be okay!

And if you find that you need an even more intense caffeine boost, you could always add even more caffeine to make a stronger version of this coffee drink.

There isn't technically a limit but you should be mindful of just how much caffeine you are consuming each day.

In theory, a coffee high might sound like it could be an enjoyable experience. However, you should remain vigilant so that you manage to keep your caffeine consumption under 400 milligrams per day. This is a safe daily caffeine limit for an adult.

If you begin to experience feelings of nervousness, restlessness, or anxiety, then it might be the right time to reduce the amount of coffee that you drink. 

Brewing Method - Dark Roast - Two Shots

Does The Number Of Shots Matter?

Yes and no. Some coffee shops add two shots of espresso to their regular coffee and call it a Red Eye coffee. Others will refer to this as a cup of Black Eye coffee. Technically the latter is correct!

This is because a traditional Red Eye coffee contains only one espresso shot that is then added to drip brewed coffee. Most coffee shops now serve double shots instead of single shots, which can be confusing at times.

Some coffee shops will sometimes pull a double shot even if a customer requests a single and split it in half. However, this will still taste different from a normal single shot of espresso. 

Flavor Profiles Of These Coffee Drinks

Each of these drinks varies in terms of their taste. The outcome of the drink is entirely dependent on the type of coffee roast and also on the number of espresso shots you want to add. The more espresso in your drink, the stronger the taste will be!

A darker coffee roast will likely create a flavor combination that is far more bitter than lighter coffee roasts which are usually of a much brighter taste. Lighter coffee roasts are generally easier to consume for this exact reason.

Coffee that falls under the "Eye" umbrella is typically made from a medium coffee roast. This combines the best features of other roasts and creates an immensely satisfying flavor profile for you to enjoy.

Said profile is quite unique, and is typically characterized by hints of nuttiness, floral, spice, acidity, and bitterness - as you would expect with any cup of coffee. Adding an espresso shot into this will only serve to enhance the already delicious flavors.

Adding Espressos

Dead Eye Coffee

Adding shots of espresso into these coffee beverages will only serve to add to the overall richness of its flavor. The only issue with having so much coffee mixed together all at once is that it can be overwhelming on the palate at times.

If this is the case, then I'd strongly suggest utilizing your favorite coffee-related flavorings when taste testing one of these three coffees.

However, this is entirely dependent on your personal preferences, but most people will add some milk, sugar, creamer, sweetener, or maybe even some flavored syrups as a way of sweetening their coffee.

So if you're in need of a real caffeine boost, I'd recommend trying out one of these amazing coffee drinks for yourself!

Ordering At Starbucks

You can purchase one of these extremely caffeine-heavy coffees at your local coffee shop or Starbucks to give you an extra kick, start, and jump at any time of day.

The "eye" drinks will most likely not be featured on the main menu, but there is nothing preventing you from listing off the ingredients you want and having the barista make it to your specifications (how many espresso shots, and whether you want to add extras like milk or syrup to sweeten the drink). 

Coffee Shop

Just remember the barista may not even know what an "eye" coffee is. Though many people do know exactly what the “eye” drinks are, there will be some people who don't refer to them by this name.

If this is the case then you can order a normal coffee - iced or hot - with as many additional espresso shots as you want.

Can You Make Them At Home?

Now you know what the different types of coffees with espresso are, and the reasoning behind their names. So it’s time to figure out whether these drinks can be successfully replicated at home.

Provided you have the correct equipment to make them, you can certainly make your own tasty coffee from the comfort of your own home!

What You'll Need:



The "eye" drinks are all relatively simple drinks to make. As long as you know how to make a basic Red Eye drink then you can experiment with espresso flavorings for the other drinks, too. All you will need to make a cup of Red Eye coffee is:

  • 1 ounce of medium-ground coffee beans
  • 10 -12 ounces of filtered water
  • Milk, sugar, syrups, or additional flavorings (optional)

The Method

  1.  Begin to brew your normal drip coffee.
  2.  Brew your espresso just before the drip coffee machine has finished.  You can brew a single or a double shot. Again, this depends on your preference. 
  3. As soon as the coffee is ready, add it into your mug. Then pour in your newly brewed espresso shot(s) on top of your drip coffee.
  4. Add in any sweeteners or extras (this is an optional step).
  5. Enjoy your Red Eye coffee!

That’s all there is to make an “eye” coffee at home. It sounds a little more complex than it probably is, but get to practicing and the taste will be more than worth it!


There you have it! This was a brief guide into what differentiates Red Eye, Black Eye, and Dead Eye coffee from one another.

We hope you learned a little bit more about these wonderfully caffeinated drinks. And if you find yourself struggling to stay awake at any time of the day, you now know which coffee to reach for! 

Due to a bitter aftertaste, these drinks may be more suited to those with an already established appreciation for coffee.

However, there's nothing stopping you from making your own version even if you're new to the art of consuming coffee on a daily basis. 

I hope you will try at least one of the drinks to see if you are able to withstand the caffeine high!

Felipe is a tea expert with an engineering background! He loves to drink and learn all about tea and coffee. His love for tea was discovered while living in Japan and his favorites are Sencha & Pu'er!

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not meant to replace professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. Do not consume any type of coffee, tea or herbal infusion if you are allergic to it. The information in this article is not intended to treat serious medical conditions. Please seek professional medical advice before using home remedies.



Copyright © 2023. Your Coffee and Tea Essentials.
YourCoffeeAndTea.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. 
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites at no extra cost to you.
YourCoffeeAndTea.com is a participant in the GoAffPro Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to the partner site.