Red Eye Coffee, Black Eye Coffee, and Dead Eye Coffee Explained

Last Updated on January 28, 2022 by brewthatcoffee

You’ve heard the term red eye before, but have you heard of the red eye coffee? This post will teach you everything you need to know about red eye, black eye, and dead eye coffees. From the meaning behind their names to caffeine content, you will know exactly which kind is right for you and how to order it.

Red Eye Coffee, Black Eye Coffee, and Dead Eye Coffee Explained

Certain coffees are created for flavor and enjoyment, and some are made for practicality. The red eye coffee, black eye coffee, and dead eye coffee are consumed for the latter reason. These drinks aren’t meant for the faint of heart and should only be consumed if you absolutely need an extreme caffeine kick.

What is Red Eye Coffee, Black Eye Coffee, and Dead Eye Coffee?

Red eye, black eye, and dead eye coffees are coffee drinks made by adding varying amounts of espresso to brewed coffee. Depending on which one you decide to order, you can expect to get either one, two, or three shots of espresso.

Red Eye Coffee

A red eye coffee is made by adding one espresso shot to a brewed coffee cup. This drink is perfect for those who want a big caffeine boost without feeling too jittery.

You can choose to order a red eye hot or iced, depending on whatever floats your boat. However, most people order it hot.

Out of the three eye coffee versions, this is the most well-known. As you may have expected, the name ‘red eye’ is inspired by those late overnight flights that cause jet lag. To get over the jet lag, you can drink a red eye coffee to help power you through the day.

Due to its popularity, the red eye has the most alternative names. Here are a few:

  • The Sludge Cup – You will hear the red eye go by this name in Alaska only. This alternate name is inspired by Alaska’s booming petroleum industry.
  • Hammerhead
  • Train Wreck – Northern California
  • Stink Eye – Portland, Oregon
  • Pacific Northwest & Southwest – Shot in the Dark
  • Double Drip – Vancouver, Canada
  • Mondo – Northeast

Black Eye Coffee

The black eye coffee is the next step up in terms of caffeine levels. This drink may be too intense for some people, so you should proceed with caution when ordering.

A black eye coffee is made by adding two espresso shots to a cup of brewed coffee. This drink is perfect for those who want an intense caffeine rush and don’t mind feeling a little jittery.

Like the red eye, you can order the black eye hot or iced.

As for the history behind its name, the black eye refers to the appearance of this coffee. After the espresso shots have been poured into the brewed coffee, a black ring forms. Some people think it resembles a black eye.

I personally thought it was because you drink this coffee when you have dark circles/black eyes due to fatigue. Both seem to make sense, though.

Dead Eye Coffee

The dead eye coffee is the strongest of the three. As you may have guessed, this drink is made by adding three espresso shots to a brewed coffee cup.

This drink is perfect for those who need an extreme caffeine kick and don’t mind feeling really jittery. It’s also great if you’re looking for something that will keep you awake for an extended period of time.

Like the other two, you can order the dead eye coffee hot or iced.

As for the name, people have all sorts of guesses about what it means, so feel free to make your own.

Real quick, I just wanted to add in a bit of a warning to those considering ordering either this drink or the black eye-it’s not healthy. Consuming too much caffeine can have some pretty bad and uncomfortable side effects.

According to Medline Plus, a government health website, consuming more than 400 mg of coffee might not be the best idea. You can experience side effects like insomnia, headaches, dehydration, dependency, and anxiety. Please check out their website for more information.

To all you Starbucks lovers, Starbucks has its own secret menu version called the green eye, perfectly branded, right?

Caffeine in Red Eye vs Black Eye vs Dead Eye

Here is a comparison table showing the caffeine content difference between the three versions of the eye coffees. Also added are some other popular coffees from Starbucks.

Aside from the espresso shots, the caffeine values are based on the grande size.

Starbucks Drink NameCaffeine Content (mg)
Starbucks® Dark Roast Coffee260
Starbucks® Espresso Solo (One Shot)75
Starbucks® Espresso Doppio (Two Shots)150
Starbucks® Espresso Triple (Three Shots)225
Starbucks® Red Eye335
Starbucks® Black Eye410
Starbucks® Green/Dead Eye485
Starbucks® Iced Caffè Americano225
Starbucks® Nitro Cold Brew280
Caffeine Content for red eye, black eye, dead eye, and other popular strong Starbucks drinks.

Want the strongest possible drink from Starbucks? Here are the Starbucks drinks with the highest caffeine content.

How to Make a Red Eye Coffee

The recipe for a red eye coffee is easy. You need one shot of espresso and one cup of brewed coffee.

  1. Brew a cup of your favorite type of coffee (french press, instant, drip machine, etc).
  2. Add one shot of espresso to the brewed coffee. If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can use a Moka pot/stovetop espresso maker.
  3. Pour into a mug and enjoy with some sugar or milk if desired.

This is an easy drink that can be sipped hot at any time of day. Keep in mind that high levels of caffeine can interfere with sleep, so if you’re looking for something to help you power through the night, this may not be the best drink for you.

How to Make a Black Eye Coffee

To make a black eye coffee, you will need two shots of espresso and one cup of brewed coffee.

  1. Brew a cup of your favorite type of coffee. You can use a french press, instant, or drip machine.
  2. Add two shots of espresso to the brewed coffee.
  3. Pour into a mug and enjoy with some sugar or any of your favorite add-ins.

How to Make a Dead Eye Coffee

To make a dead eye coffee, you will need three shots of espresso and one cup of brewed coffee.

  1. Brew a cup of your favorite kind of coffee.
  2. Add three shots of espresso to the brewed coffee.
  3. Pour into a mug and enjoy with some sugar or any of your favorite coffee add-ins.

FAQ About the ‘Eye’ Coffees

Is a red eye coffee strong?

Yes, the red eye coffee is strong as it has the caffeine content of a brewed cup of coffee plus a shot of espresso.

What is a red eye coffee at Starbucks?

You can simply call it a red eye at Starbucks since this drink is well-known and popular. If you happen to get an inexperienced barista, simply tell them you would like a coffee with a shot of espresso added.

What is a black eye from Starbucks?

The black eye is almost as popular as the red eye at Starbucks. You can ask for a black eye. If the barista isn’t aware of this drink, ask for a coffee with two shots of espresso added.

What is a dead eye from Starbucks?

At Starbucks, the dead eye is a secret menu item also known as the green eye. You can attempt to ask for it; however, it’s not as popular as the other two. To order it, you can ask for a brewed coffee with three shots of espresso added.

What is added to your coffee to make it a red eye?

What’s the difference between a red eye and an Americano?

The difference between a red eye and an Americano is that the Americano contains water in addition to espresso, rather than espresso added to brewed coffee. Naturally, the red eye is the stronger drink of the two.

Final Thoughts

As you now know, all these coffees are for people who need a big caffeine kick. If you’re a beginner coffee drinker, you probably don’t want to start with any of these.

The red eye coffee is perfect for those who need to get through the day without feeling sluggish. It’s also a great option if you’re flying and want to avoid jet lag.

The black eye coffee is perfect for those who want an intense caffeine rush and don’t mind feeling a little jittery.

The dead eye coffee is perfect for those who need an extreme caffeine kick and don’t mind feeling really jittery. It’s also great if you’re looking for something that will keep you awake for a long period of time.

Just be careful with these drinks as they can be quite strong. If you haven’t tried one before, start with the red eye and then drink more as necessary.

Do you have a favorite ‘eye’ coffee? If so, please let us all know in the comments. Thank you for reading!

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