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What is Red Eye Coffee? Everything You Need to Know

Zoomed in black coffee

If you have ever drunk a cup of coffee and then felt the urge to drink more because it didn’t quite give you that energy boost you needed, you’re not alone. Sometimes regular coffee is just not enough fuel to get you started or keep you engaged. That’s where a good cup of Red Eye Coffee can help you. 

A Red Eye basically means an extra shot of espresso in your coffee to give you an extra kick. There are other similar coffees to the Red Eye, including a Black Eye coffee (2 shots) and a Dead Eye coffee (3 shots). Too much caffeine can be bad for you, so we recommend starting with a Red Eye and making your way up to the Dead Eye coffee.

Whether you are trying to study for long hours, have a project due, or just need a kick in the morning, the Red Eye coffee is just the thing you need. Although it’s a very simple answer to what is Red Eye coffee, there is much more information to be learned about it, which we will go over in this article.

What is a Red Eye Coffee?

A Red Eye is a coffee drink that is a blend between brewed coffee and a single shot of espresso. The estimated amount of caffeine in a Red Eye coffee is 160mg. It is also generally served without milk but it can be made however you prefer.

You can also order a Red Eye coffee from your favorite coffee chains such as Starbucks. It is not generally on the menu but workers will know what it is if you ask. They will likely just charge you for one extra espresso. Equally, some places just call it “an extra shot of expresso”.

The red eye coffee is also known as a hammerhead

A Red Eye coffee can either be hot or cold, it just depends on your preference. If you prefer your coffee hot, then you can either choose to brew using a coffee maker or a manual brewer like a French Press or drip coffee. But if you prefer your coffee cold, then the best brew to use is cold brew.  

The Origin of the Red Eye Coffee

Little is known in regard to the real story about how the Red Eye Coffee came into existence. 

The name came about due to long flight situations that passengers had to endure late at night “flying in on the red eye”. Because of long trips between New York and the West Coast of the USA that passengers (especially businessmen on business trips) had to experience which leaves late and arrives early in the morning, thus the coffee was made. 

People had to create a really strong drink to cancel out fatigue and give them a greater energy boost to get them through the day, which is a much better alternative to drinking energy drinks that are full of sugars. 

This coffee is not for the faint of heart. The average 12-ounce cup of coffee contains only about 90 milligrams of caffeine, now imagine getting 4 times more of that coffee in just one cup of joe! Now that’s an extreme jolt. You should also be cautious of the health impacts of a caffeine overload. 

Red Eye Coffee 101

Quite a few articles are mentioning Red Eye coffee variations, but the true Red Eye coffee is made with a single shot of espresso and drip coffee. This means that a pour-over coffee, or French press, no matter how fancy and great of a coffee cup it makes, still won’t be good enough for a Red Eye coffee. 

Nevertheless, the Red Eye Coffee is best known for its caffeine-infused, ultimate energy-boosting property rather than its interesting taste. So whichever method you choose of making the coffee, the end result is still about the amount of caffeine.

The key to brewing the perfect Red Eye coffee is perfecting the two distinct drinks it’s composed of. To better give you an idea about how to make the strongest coffee blend, here is a list of what you’ll need and what you will need to do. 

How to Make a Red Eye Coffee

Red Eye Coffee

A Red Eye is a coffee drink that is a blend between brewed coffee and a single shot of espresso. The estimated amount of caffeine in a Red Eye coffee is 160mg. It is also generally served without milk but it can be made however you prefer.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Coffee, Red Eye
Yield: 1 Cup
Cost: $5


  • Coffee Bean Grinder
  • Espresso Machine
  • Drip Coffee Maker
  • Coffee Cup


For the Drip Coffee

  • 2 tbsp. Medium-sized ground coffee
  • 8 ounce Water

For the Expresso Shot

  • 1 tbsp. Fine-sized ground coffee
  • 1 ounce Water


  • Normally, people would use pre-ground coffee for convenience but if you want to extract the best flavor of your coffee, it’s highly recommended for you to grind your coffee. Make sure that you grind enough coffee for both your espresso shot and drip coffee.
  • After you have grounded up your coffee, start brewing your drip coffee. You can use an automatic drip coffee maker or a manual drip coffee maker to make the experience worthwhile. Take note that when using a manual drip coffee maker, your water temperature should be between 195°F to 205°F.
  • Just when your drip coffee is almost done brewing, start brewing your espresso shot. When brewing a single espresso shot, your allowed brew time is between 18-23 seconds but never over 23 seconds or you’ll end up having an overly extracted and bitter espresso shot.
  • When you finally have both your coffees brewed, get your desired coffee cup.
  • Pour your drip coffee into the cup.
  • Gently pour the espresso shot over the drip coffee.

How Strong is a Red Eye Coffee?

It is estimated based on caffeine that the strength of a Red Eye coffee is around 160mg. This is much higher than a regular cup of coffee which contains roughly 95mg of caffeine. 

Now, you probably are used to drinking coffee, with over 3 cups of joe consumed on average in a  single day. But when that isn’t enough caffeine, the Red Eye is what you will need.

The key thing to remember here is that the strength can depend on the strength of the coffee used. If you use one of the strongest coffees in the world like the Death Wish coffee, which has over 700mg of caffeine in it, your Red Eye coffee would contain dangerously high levels of caffeine. Whereas if you used a weaker coffee in terms of caffeine, your Red Eye coffee might not exceed that of a regular cup. 

Always be sure to check the caffeine content beforehand.

If you have had an expresso on its own and a single cup of coffee on its own, think about the caffeine kick you got from each. Combine the two and you get a stronger drink. However, to someone who drinks coffee regularly, it might not be very noticeable, even though you are consuming more caffeine. 

It’s highly recommended that you drink this coffee in the morning and avoid drinking it at night, as it will probably keep you up all night and can disrupt future sleeping patterns. A Red Eye coffee is known to give you an extreme caffeine boost. Although it may seem like a regular Americano, don’t be fooled! With Red Eye coffee, looks are definitely deceiving. 

Does a Red Eye Coffee Taste Good?

Because a Red Eye coffee consists of two different coffee drinks with very distinct taste profiles, it has a very interesting taste. The coffee has a very bold and strong flavor profile, so depending on the type of coffee you purchase, you would be able to taste the notes more.

Key Take-Away

If you’re looking for a major energy boost and you’re willing to get a bit of the jitter, then you should definitely try some Red Eye Coffee. This coffee drink is great for that late-night work you have to do to meet your deadline.

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