What Is a Red Eye Coffee? And 2 Related Coffee Drinks

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Welcome to a world where caffeine reigns supreme! This guide isn’t about creamy delights like lattes or cappuccinos, nor is it about watering down espresso into various coffee drinks such as Americanos or long blacks. Instead, we’re diving into the realm of pure, unadulterated caffeine for those who truly love their coffee strong.

Wondering what a red-eye coffee is? It’s the perfect mix for coffee fans: a full cup of coffee with an extra espresso kick!

But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning.

What Is a Red-Eye Coffee Drink?

A red-eye coffee mixes a regular brewed cup with an espresso shot, packing a powerful caffeine kick. Regular coffee brings 95 mg of caffeine to the table, while an espresso shot adds another 65 mg. That’s a whopping 160 mg of caffeine in one go – a real energy booster!

Coffee splashing, like when you pour espresso into it to make a red-eye coffee

The red-eye coffee got its name from those long overnight flights, where just coffee or espresso isn’t enough to keep you awake. It’s a strong blend for those really tiring days.

The taste of a red eye coffee is all about the coffee and espresso you pick. Imagine using Cuban coffee for your brew and adding a shot of Illy or Lavazza espresso for a bold, dark flavor. Or, for something with a lighter touch, mix coffee made from Costa Rican beans with espresso from Colombian coffee for a cup that sings with floral and fruity notes. It’s all up to what you like!

How to Make a Red-Eye Coffee

  1. Brew a cup of coffee. You can use your favorite drip coffee, Keurig pods, or whatever other method you like for this. I’m a fan of automatic pour-over coffee makers for this — but just go with your personal preference.
  2. Pull a shot of espresso. Ideally, you should have an espresso machine for this step, although Nespresso pods will also work. In a pinch, you could use an espresso mimic from an AeroPress or Moka pot coffee, but it just won’t be the same. 
  3. Pour the shot into the cup. There’s nothing special about the mixing process here, but the shot is usually added to the brewed coffee instead of the other way around.
  4. Modify as desired. You can drink your red-eye coffee as-is — or feel free to add cream, sugar, flavored syrup, or whatever else you generally like in your coffee. 
  5. Enjoy!

Black-Eye Coffee Drink

Craving a stronger coffee kick than just one espresso shot? If you’re always adding extra shots to your drinks, it’s time to level up to a black-eye coffee. Imagine a red-eye coffee, but with a double espresso boost. That’s a black-eye – perfect for those who need that extra punch in their cup. Ready to try?

Making two shots of espresso, enough for a black-eye coffee

A black-eye coffee packs a punch with 225 mg of caffeine – that’s 2.5 times more than a regular cup!

Green-Eye / Dead-Eye Coffee Drink

Need a serious caffeine boost? If double shots don’t cut it, try a green-eye coffee, also known as a dead-eye. This powerhouse drink packs three shots of espresso, making it the strongest coffee you can find.

If you’re watching your caffeine intake, know this: one drink packs about 290 mg of caffeine, triple what you’d find in regular drip coffee! And when you add three shots of espresso, the taste really changes. It becomes all about the espresso. That’s why choosing top-notch espresso beans is crucial, or else you’ll end up with a not-so-great tasting cup.

Yes, Starbucks Has Them All

Did you know at many coffee spots, like Starbucks, you can order a red-eye, black-eye, or green-eye? These are some of the most potent options available, even more intense than the strongest Starbucks drinks. Perfect for those who need an extra kick!

If your favorite coffee spot doesn’t offer espresso or brewed coffee on the menu, don’t worry! They likely have all the ingredients needed to whip up these classic drinks. But, if they don’t, it might be time to explore a new cafe.

Other Names for Red-Eye Coffee

Struggling to find red-eye coffee nearby? Listen for its local slang names. They might just be calling it something else!

  • In Alaska, they call it a sludge cup, a name that you can probably thank the state’s gigantic petroleum industry for.
  • In Northern California, instead of a red-eye coffee, you should order a train wreck.
  • In the Northeastern US, it’s a mondo. Given that the word typically means striking or remarkable, I guess it fits.
  • In the Pacific Northwest, you’d order a shot in the dark for a red-eye coffee and a double shot in the dark for a black eye. Parts of Colorado and New Mexico also use that first name.
  • In Ulysses Kansas, it’s an oil spill.
  • In Vancouver, Canada, you might try ordering a double drip.
  • At the Horse Brass Pub in Portland, Oregon, you can just order a stink eye.
  • You can try ordering a hammerhead or a wellard coffee, although these names don’t seem to be in use anymore.

The Eyes Have It

I wouldn’t recommend making red-eye coffee your daily go-to. Much like breve coffee, it’s better enjoyed occasionally. However, for a powerful energy boost, red-eye coffee is hard to beat, except maybe by its cousins, black-eye and green-eye coffee.

If you’re after a big caffeine kick, check out the strongest coffee k-cups. They’re super easy to use without needing an espresso machine and can quickly get you to that caffeine buzz.

what is a red eye coffee

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