Red Eye vs Black Eye vs Dead Eye Coffee
Do you ever need a shot (or two, or three) of espresso to wake up in the morning? Enter red eye, black eye, and dead eye coffee.
If you have never heard of these terms before, don’t you worry!
All three of these coffees are distinct and we will be covering the origins, differences, and new ways to play with each type of coffee.
Let’s dive right in and explore all three of these types of coffee, and when they might be the best fit for you!
This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you). Please see my full disclosure policy for details.
What is the Difference Between these Coffees?
Each of these three types of coffee sound quite similar, so you might have guessed that they have some similarities. In fact, the main difference between the three types of coffee, red eye, black eye and dead eye is the number of espresso shots that they each contain.
For all three of these coffees, some number of espresso shots is added to a regular cup of brewed coffee.
Why Are We Adding Shots of Espresso to Coffee?
Now that you understand the main difference between these coffees, you might be wondering, why does this exist in the first place?
This has to do with science.
As you drink more coffee, your body becomes acclimated to caffeine, and it develops a tolerance to it.
If you have been drinking coffee for a while, you might have already noticed this start to happen. I
f you remember back to when you first started drinking coffee, you might have felt jittery after just a cup or two.
But now, that same amount of coffee doesn’t give you the same effect. In fact, many people felt like drinking the daily recommended amount of coffee wasn’t giving them the energy that they wanted/needed to get through the day.
The first solution to this problem was to just drink more coffee. However, it is unsurprising that many doctors warned against this practice because you simply don’t want to drink five or six cups of coffee a day.
Thus, red eye, black eye, and dead eye coffee were born. Instead of drinking more cups of coffee, people started adding shots of espresso to their coffee. That way they were getting more caffeine, but from the same number of cups that they were typically drinking.
What is Red Eye Coffee?
We are starting with red-eye coffee because it is the most common out of the three to start with. This is simply because red eye coffee adds only one shot of espresso to your cup of coffee.
The term “red eye” is probably familiar to many of you (other names for this coffee include “third rail” and “atomic blast”).
The most common use of this phrase is to describe a flight that departs at night and doesn’t arrive to its destination until the next morning.
However, the term “red eye” is actually used to describe red eyes, which you might notice on yourself if you haven’t gotten enough sleep.
Making a red eye coffee is quite simple, just add a shot of espresso to your regular cup of brewed coffee.
Many people enjoy red eye coffee because it gives a small caffeine boost, without overloading your coffee with caffeine (as we will see below).
How Much Caffeine is in Red Eye Coffee?
Now that you know what red eye coffee is, you might be wondering, how much caffeine is really added with just one shot of espresso.
Well, to understand that, we first have to know how much caffeine is in the average cup of coffee. An average cup (in this case, eight ounces) of coffee contains about 96 milligrams of caffeine.
Now, the average shot of espresso (one ounce) contains about 64 milligrams of caffeine.
When you add these two figures together, an eight ounce cup of red eye coffee contains about 160 milligrams of caffeine.
This means you get more than one and a half cups of regular brewed coffee (in terms of caffeine level) in just one cup when you add a shot of espresso.
What is Black Eye Coffee?
Since we know that red eye coffee contains one shot of espresso, it should come to no surprise that black eye coffee contains two shots of espresso.
If you are wondering where the name “black eye” came from, it isn’t from any shots to your eye. It is actually from the appearance of a black ring in the cup of coffee after the two shots of espresso are poured in.
This type of coffee has increased in popularity recently. It has especially become popular among students who are cramming for exams and staying up far too late.
How Much Caffeine is in Black Eye Coffee?
If you don’t feel like doing the math to find out how much caffeine is in one cup of black eye coffee, I’ve got you covered.
If you remember, an eight ounce cup of coffee has about 96 milligrams of caffeine. Paired with two shots of espresso (about 64 milligrams of caffeine each) equals about 224 milligrams of caffeine.
As you can imagine, this one cup of coffee packs quite a punch!
What is Dead Eye Coffee?
If you’ve caught onto the trend here, you know exactly what’s coming next. Dead eye coffee is by far the most extreme of the three types of coffee. While it isn’t as popular as the other two types of coffee (mostly because of its strong taste and heavy caffeine load) it is still popular enough to have a name and reputation.
Dead eye coffee is brewed coffee with three shots of espresso. If you aren’t ready to find out how much caffeine is in this powerful cup of coffee yet, let’s talk about where the name comes from.
Dead eye coffee got its name simply because of the large amount of caffeine that it is in it, and the effect that this coffee has on your body.
However, there is another name for this coffee that has recently gained in popularity: green eye coffee. Any guesses where this name came from?
If you thought Starbucks, you would be correct.
Starbucks clearly wanted to stick with the color theme, and what better color than the one that matches their brand?
So, if you hear the name “green eye coffee” thrown around, just know it is the same as dead eye coffee, with those three shots of espresso.
How Much Caffeine is in Dead Eye Coffee?
Before you start adding three shots of coffee to your morning cup, you should be warned how much caffeine is in your dead eye cup of joe.
Keeping the same calculations before, dead eye coffee contains about 288 milligrams of caffeine, for just one cup. If you are keeping track, that is exactly the same amount of caffeine as three cups of regularly brewed coffee!
Another thing to keep in mind when considering adding this drink to your repertoire is the daily recommended amount of caffeine.
Many doctors agree that the absolute maximum amount of caffeine you should be drinking a day is 400 milligrams.
This means you should only be drinking one cup of dead eye coffee a day, to keep up with recommended healthy practices.
Can You Buy Red eye, black eye and dead eye Coffees in Cafes?
While I will be going over how to prepare these cups of coffee at home, you might want to avoid trying this at home altogether.
If that’s you, you might be wondering: could I buy this drink at my local coffee house? The answer is yes!
Not every barista has heard of these three terms, so if they aren’t sure what a red eye coffee is, simply ask for a cup of coffee with a shot of espresso.
You can order any of these drinks hot or cold, so make sure to tailor it to your personal preference!
How to Make red eye, black eye, and dead eye at Home
If you are interested in making a red eye, black eye, or dead eye coffee at home, it is definitely possible.
Now, the easiest route to make this type of coffee would be if you have an espresso maker. If you already have an espresso maker, making any of these types of coffee is easy. Our #1 expresso machin recommendation is this one here.
Simply brew your preferred cup of coffee, and make your one, two, or three shots of espresso.
Then pour your shot(s) of espresso into your ready cup of coffee, and voila!
You’ve got yourself a red, black, or dead eye cup of coffee!
However, it is not completely impossible if you don’t have an espresso maker.
If you own either of these coffee makers, you create something pretty similar to a shot of espresso. With that, simply make your shots, and then pour them into your regular cup of coffee!
Just like when you order your coffee at a cafe, you can also make your coffee at home hot or iced. If you are making it iced, simply add some ice to your coffee and shake it up before you pour in your espresso shots.
What Does “Eye” Coffee Taste Like?
Like any coffee, the taste is going to widely vary depending on the type of roast.
When you go to a coffee shop, the most common type of roast that people pair with one of these coffees is a medium roast.
This will balance out the flavors of the drip coffee and the espresso shots.
As you can imagine, the red eye coffee is going to be the least strong, whereas dead eye coffee is going to have a very strong taste of coffee.
If you get a lighter roast, the espresso flavor will come out a bit more, but it will also be paired with the floral and fruity flavors that typically come with a light roast.
A dark roast is going to deliver a much smoker and bolder flavor. If you get a dead eye with a dark roast, you are going to have an insanely bitter and dark cup of coffee on your hands. But, you can always add cream and sugar if your cup of coffee is a little too strong.
Just remember, when you add cream/sugar, you are adding more fat and calories. So if that is something you are trying to avoid, stick with a medium roast of red eye coffee for the least bitter experience.
However, no matter what roast you try, these three types of coffee are going to deliver a strong coffee flavor. So, I do not recommend any of these types of coffee if you are a beginner, or you aren’t a big fan of the taste of coffee.
Conclusion on Red eye, Black eye and Dead eye
Do you already feel jittery? Don’t worry, the red eye, black eye, and dead eye coffee are not for everyone.
But if you have been looking for a caffeine boost and aren’t interested in running to your coffee maker four or five times a day, this is definitely a great alternative.
Make sure to start with red eye coffee so you ease yourself into the “eye coffee” world. But, if that still isn’t strong enough, feel free to try black eye or even dead eye coffee.
Whether you order it at Starbucks or try your hand at making it at home, these three coffees are perfect for your next late night!
What’ next? More Coffee related posts:
- Best 21 K-cups rated by taste, smell and quality by Coffee Experts!
- The Ultimate Guide to start drinking coffee for beginners!
- How much Milk is in a Capuccino (Complete Guide)