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Coffee Types

What Is a Red Eye Coffee?

When you hear the words red eye coffee, you may wonder if such a beverage exists. We are used to regular coffee drinks from Starbucks such as cappucinos, espressos, machiattos, and lattes, that such a strange name may take us a back?

Well, red eye coffee does exist. It is a high-caffeine coffee alternative that’s making an appearance on many coffee shop menus. Red Eye coffee is made by combining drip coffee with espresso. You can add one or two espresso shots to your Red Eye coffee, depending on your preference.

Red Eye Coffee.


The idea behind this unique coffee beverage is to give you a massive caffeine fix that will leave you bright eyed and alert. That’s why it’s called Red Eye coffee. It is also referred to as ” a black hole” in some places, referring to redeye coffee’s espresso shots. Red eye coffee is also called a Canadiano in some cafes. It’s intended as a jab to the Americano and is used only as a nickname.

In California, some coffee shops refer to Red Eye coffee as a  “train wreck”. You’ll also find some cafes in the Pacific NorthWest referring to Red Eye coffee as Hammerhead coffee or a “shot in the dark”.

In Alaska, Red Eye coffee is called a “sludge cup”  by locals who work in the petroleum industry due to its similarity to an oil spill.

The reference to darkness, sludge, or a black hole when referring to versions of red eye coffee may be because of its dark appearance. It’s dark color and sludgy consistency gets stronger the more espresso shots you add to it.


Origin of the Term Red Eye Coffee

If you are asking “what is a red eye coffee?”, here is the story of its origin. Red eye coffee got its name from the United States. It comes from the feeling that passengers get when they need to cope with long-haul flights-specifically the red eye flight.

The time it takes to get from the West coast to the East coast leaves most passengers feeling like a train wreck and with no energy to do anything. By the time you get off a red eye flight, all you need is an extra caffeinated drink to wake you up. A Red-eye coffee is just the right beverage.

But that’s not the only situation in which you should have red eye coffee. You can drink it when you get tired in the middle of the day or when you can’t be bothered to drink cup after cup of weak coffee.

If you are on a long road trip, stop at a coffee shop and buy a red eye coffee; it will keep you awake as you drive. It’s the ideal beverage that assures you of a quick and powerful caffeine fix anytime you need a jolt to kick start your brain.


What Makes a Cup of Red Eye Coffee?

There are several ways to make red eye coffee, and you will find people calling it by different names.

The variations of red eye coffee are based on their content in terms of the espresso shots. And although some people add milk, creamer, or sugar to red eye coffee, it’s best taken without any additives.

A basic cup of Red eye coffee is made using drip coffee and a top up of a single shot of espresso. But there are other red eye coffee variants named according to the espresso shots in them.

If you decide to add two shots of espresso to enhance the body of your coffee and improve its caffeine content, it’s called black eye coffee. And when you add three shots of espresso to drip coffee, it’s  referred to as green eye coffee or dead eye coffee. Dead eye coffees may have high caffeine levels but some people still order or make them for the buzz.

Red eye coffee tastes like regular black coffee but with a slight bitter taste from the shot of espresso in it.  The kind of roast you use may give your red eye coffee a unique taste, but the caffeine content is the same.

Any barista will tell you that what dominates a cup of red eye coffee is the taste of drip coffee. But, I think that depends on the person. In my opinion, drip coffee dominates Americano but the espresso shots in a red eye coffee drink determine its taste. And the flavors of the coffee get stronger the more espresso shots you add to the coffee.

You’ll find many red eye coffee recipes on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and posts on coffee-making websites. Some coffee review sites also have an article or two on Red Eye coffee and the different coffee roasts you can use to make it.


How to Make Red Eye Coffee

You don’t have to buy red eye coffee from the coffee shops, you can make it yourself. It’s easy if you have the equipment to brew drip coffee and espresso.

There are different variations of making Red eye coffee, depending on the process you use to make drip coffee. You may choose to use a French Press, an Aero Press, or the pour over method.

The pour over method may be the quickest and simplest way to brew your drip coffee. Some great coffee machines you can use to brew your drip coffee are the Hario v60 and the Chemex. When you have the right coffee gear, you can make an excellent cup of red eye coffee anytime.

The first step when brewing red eye coffee is to grind your coffee beans for the drip coffee and espresso shots. Coffee grounds for drip coffee should be course in texture to get the best flavor. Pack the coffee grounds into a filter, pour some hot water over them, and let you drip coffee collect in a mug or carafe.

The amount of coffee grounds you use will determine the caffeine content and flavor of your drip coffee. But you don’t need much because your coffee will also contain espresso.

While you are brewing the drip coffee, you may pull your espresso shots on the side. You can make espresso using a French Press, a Portable espresso maker, a Moka pot, or an Espresso machine. Remember, you need fine coffee grounds to make Espresso.

The ratio of drip to espresso coffee you need to brew red eye coffee is 10 ounces of drip coffee to 2 ounces of espresso coffee. Mix these beverages and you’ll have about one and a half cups of red eye coffee to give you the powerful caffeine fix you need.

The order of espresso to drip coffee may matter to some people. Usually, the drip coffee acts as a base and the espresso is poured into it. But you may choose to make espresso the base of your red eye coffee. What matters is that the beverages intermingle and give you the strong caffeinated cup of Joe you need.


How Much Caffeine is in Red Eye Coffee?

You are probably wondering how much caffeine you can get from red eye coffee? How powerful is it? Well, the caffeine content in red eye coffee is a combination of the caffeine in drip coffee and that in espresso shots.

If you are not worried about your caffeine consumption, you can have several shots of espresso in your Red Eye coffee. Some coffee lovers will tell you the more caffeine the better, especially when you are pulling an  all-nighter!

Usually, a cup of drip coffee has 95 grams of caffeine, while a shot of espresso contains 64 grams of caffeine. You can calculate the caffeine content in your red eye brew by looking at the individual cups of drip or espresso coffee you use.

If you combine a cup of drip coffee and a shot of espresso, your Red-eye coffee contains 159 grams of caffeine. A red eye brew made of 10 ounces of drip coffee ( 11/4 cups of coffee), and 2 ounces of espresso (2 shots) adds up to about 247 grams of caffeine. You may also combine an 8 ounce cup of drip coffee with an ounce or a shot of espresso.


What You Need to Make the Best Red-Eye Coffee

Although it seems simple to brew red eye coffee, you have no guarantee it will taste good unless you brew it the right way.  The basics of a good cup of red eye coffee are the espresso shots and the drip coffee. Get those ratios right and you have an excellent cup of strong coffee to kick start your day.

The first thing you need is good quality beans. You can also explore the option of blending different types of coffee beans. Some beans have a chocolate flavor, others are fruity, while others are citrusy.  It may be fun, mixing different coffees to make a unique tasting cup of coffee.

Remember that lighter roasts contain more caffeine than dark roast coffees.Therefore, if you want to reduce the caffeine content in your Red Eye coffee, use dark roast coffee beans.Using dark roasts will increase the sweetness of your coffee and give it a pleasant chocolatey, smoky flavor. However, if you prefer fruity notes in your coffee, use a light roast, but expect your coffee to be a bit acidic.

Try as many roasts as you can when making your Red Eye coffee.  You can buy the freshest roasts from coffee roasters or coffee shops that roast their coffee beans. You may also combine a dark and light roast to get a mix of flavors, and balance out the acidic content. Finding the combination you like will give you the best Red Eye coffee brew recipe.

Although it’s not popular, you can also add sweetener, creamer  or milk to your Red Eye coffee. Some people also flavor it with spices like cinnamon, syrups like chocolate syrup, or extracts like vanilla to reduce bitterness.


Benefits of Red Eye coffee

If you are a coffee lover, you may find red eye coffee addictive. Apart from the pleasure of drinking a strong cup of coffee, it can provide you with some benefits.  Here are a few.


  1. Improve mental and physical performance

The caffeine content in red eye coffee can boost your mood, increase concentration, and alleviate exhaustion. That’s why it’s named after the Red Eye flight.

When you get off such a long-haul flight, all you need is a caffeine kick that can jump start your system. The caffeine in red eye coffee can do that, helping to alleviate any fatigue you feel.

Gym bunnies often have coffee before a high-intensity workout to improve their performance and you can too. It can increase your metabolism, helping you to lose weight. But watch out for the effects of taking too much caffeine if you suffer from heart palpitations or high blood pressure because it can quicken your heart rate.

Drinking a lot of caffeine on top of exercising (which raises adrenaline levels), may also cause insomnia. That’s because caffeine is a stimulant that can boost your alertness, but when taken in excess, it can cause you to have trouble sleeping.

Experts say that caffeine remains in your body up to six hours after consuming coffee. Therefore, avoid taking red eye coffee past 2 pm to prevent the fatigue, insomnia, and health risks caused by drinking too much coffee.

  1. Contains antioxidants

Red Eye coffee contains antioxidants such as Chlorogenic acids, hydrocinnamic acids, caffeic acid, and polyphenols.

Chlorogenic acid is an anti -inflammatory that can lower your blood sugar levels and reduce your chances of contracting Diabetes.

It also lowers cholesterol, and boosts metabolism,  reducing the chances of getting heart ailments or gaining unnecessary weight.

Hydrocinnamic acids can also protect your body from free radicals that damage our bodies and cause aging through oxidative stress. They also prevent chronic ailments such as cancer.

  1. Increase mental alertness

The caffeine content in red eye coffee can improve your short-term memory. Take it any time you need to improve your mental functions and feel more alert.

Note that the benefits of caffeine reduce the more coffee you drink. You only need two cups of coffee to improve your brain functions. Anything beyond that may lower your concentration due to jitters.

Signs of jitters are tremors, lack of focus, headaches, and heart palpitations. When you take red eye coffee and experience these symptoms, know that it’s due to the high caffeine content.  Stop drinking coffee immediately and drink water to flush the excess caffeine out of your system.

  1. Boosts metabolism

Drinking coffee can improve your metabolism and help you to burn fat. It also helps to kick start your bowel movements when you are experiencing constipation.

However, taking too much caffeine can cause dehydration, triggering frequent urination. Signs of dehydration are skin irritation, dry mouth, and tiredness. In other cases, when taken on an empty stomach, it irritates the stomach lining, causing diarrhea.

You can prevent these side effects by drinking lots of water, or adding creamer or milk to your coffee to cut down on its acidity. You may also consider diluting your red eye coffee with hot water. If you keep your coffee intake to two cups a day, you are unlikely to suffer these side effects.



The FDA recommends we take only 400 mg of caffeine a day. Anything more than that will trigger negative side effects.

A cup of red eye coffee contains about 160 mg of caffeine.You should only take at most two cups of red eye coffee a day.

It’s advisable that you space them out to avoid the jitters and other side effects associated with consuming too much caffeine at a time.

If you take medication such as blood thinners and medicine for depression, avoid drinking red eye coffee because it will interact with your medicine and cause negative side effects.


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