What is Red Eye vs Black Eye vs Dead Eye Coffee?

Last updated on October 5th, 2023 by Garret Jacob

red eye vs black eye vs dead eye coffee

If you are a busy person consistently in need of a strongly caffeinated drink when on the go, then you may already be a big fan of the power of red eye vs black eye vs dead eye coffee.

The origins of Red Eye Coffee can not be traced to a single location or a specific time, however, most people agree that it was created sometime in the late 90s in local coffee shops across the United States. 

Coffee lovers began ordering Red Eye Coffee by word of mouth at local coffee shops everywhere, until eventually, it became a secret menu item at Starbucks, and finally, it is now on the menu of coffee shops everywhere. 

A Red Eye Coffee is simply a cup of drip coffee with a shot of espresso added for an additional boost of caffeine. But what if you need something even stronger and with even more caffeine?

Don’t worry. The Black Eye and Dead Eye Coffee has got you covered. 

What is a Red Eye Coffee?

what is a red eye
Do you know what red eye coffee is?
Photo by Cup of Couple

A Red Eye coffee is a simple drink for coffee lovers looking for a little extra boost to their normal cup of joe. All you do is add a single shot of espresso to a cup of regular drip coffee. Red Eye coffee has also been called a “shot in the dark”, “coffee with a shot”, and “depth charge”. 

Red Eye Coffee vs. Americano

A Red Eye Coffee differs from an Americano in several ways. First, Red Eye Coffee is made with espresso added to drip coffee whereas an Americano is espresso added to hot water. The results are that Red Eye Coffee has a much bolder flavor and a much higher caffeine content. 

Red Eye Coffee with milk

For coffee drinkers looking for that extra boost of caffeine with a smoother delivery, they can order Red Eye Coffee with milk. The drink is made by adding frothed or steamed milk to strong drip coffee into a single glass and then pouring a single shot of espresso into the mix. Some people also like to add sugar, honey, chocolate, or another type of sweetener for extra flavor.

What is a Triple Red Eye coffee?

Triple Red Eye Coffee is simply another name for Dead Eye Coffee. Or if you are ordering from Starbucks, it is referred to as Green Eye Coffee. The drink is made by adding a triple shot of espresso to a cup of strong drip coffee. 

What is a Black Eye coffee?

What is a Black Eye coffee
Can you handle two shots of espresso?
Photo by Kimiya Oveisi

Black Eye Coffee is made the exact same way as Red Eye Coffee, but instead of a single shot of espresso, you add a double shot. The result is an even bolder coffee drink with even more caffeine. If you prefer, you can also add steamed milk or a sweetener of your choice to take the edge off the intense bitterness of the drink. 

What is a Dead Eye coffee?

What is a Dead Eye coffee
Looking for a high-octane coffee drink?
Photo by Laura Seidlitz

Dead Eye Coffee is made the exact same way as Red Eye and Black Eye Coffee, but instead of adding a single or double shot of espresso, you add a triple shot. The result is a high-octane intensely caffeinated beverage that will blow your socks off. Dead Eye Coffee is also known as Green Eye Coffee at your local Starbucks. 

Red Eye vs Black Eye vs Dead Eye Comparisons

Red Eye vs Black Eye vs Dead Eye Comparisons
How do they differ?
Photo by Jim Kalligas


When it comes to the difference in taste between these three highly caffeinated drinks, they all taste pretty much the same except for the fact that the flavor profile will change in terms of intensity and bitterness the more espresso you add. 

  • Red Eye Coffee: Intense and bitter
  • Black Eye Coffee: Extra intense and bitter
  • Dead Eye Coffee: Extremely intense and bitter

Special note: If you want to cut down on the bitterness of any of these drinks, you may want to consider adding steamed milk or cream to the drink and/or sugar or an added sweetener of your choice. 

Caffeine content

The caffeine content of these three drinks can be calculated by adding together the caffeine content of one cup of drip coffee (8 fl oz) and the caffeine content of each shot of espresso. A single shot of espresso is estimated to have around 63 mg of caffeine. 

  • Red Eye Coffee: 95 mg + single shot of espresso 63 mg = 158 mg of caffeine. 
  • Black Eye Coffee: 95 mg + double shot of espresso 126 mg = 221 mg of caffeine. 
  • Dead Eye Coffee: 95 mg + triple shot of espresso 189 mg = 284 mg of caffeine. 

Special note: Keep in mind that if you order one of these drinks at your local coffee shop, the barista may use more than 8 fl oz of coffee and the caffeine content could be even higher. 

Calorie Count

The calorie count of the Red Eye, Black Eye, and Dead Eye Coffee is pretty low since  there is nothing to these drinks other than drip coffee and espresso. An 8-ounce cup of coffee has about the equivalent of 2 calories and a shot of espresso has about the same. Add them together and you get this breakdown.

  • Red Eye Coffee: 4 calories
  • Black Eye Coffee: 6 calories
  • Dead Eye Coffee: 8 calories

Special note: If you add any milk, cream, sugar, or added flavors like chocolate syrup or caramel, then the calorie count can increase significantly. 

How to order Red Eye vs Black Eye vs Dead Eye coffee at Starbucks

How to order Red Eye vs Black Eye vs Dead Eye coffee at Starbucks
You can get it from our favorite coffee store!
Photo by AK

If you are looking to order one of these popular high-octane drinks at your local Starbucks, there is a slight variation you should know about when it comes to what you need to tell the barista when ordering.

At Starbucks, you have the following options.

  • Red Eye Coffee (Drip coffee with a single shot of espresso)
  • Black Eye Coffee (Drip coffee with a double shot of espresso)
  • Lazy Eye Coffee (DECAF drip coffee with a single shot of espresso)
  • Green Eye Coffee (Drip coffee with a triple shot of espresso)

How to make Red Eye, Black Eye, and Dead Eye coffee at home

How to make Red Eye, Black Eye, and Dead Eye coffee at home
You can even make it from your home.
Photo by Blake Carpenter

Making Red Eye, Black Eye, and Dead Eye Coffee at home is quite simple if you have a drip coffee machine and an espresso machine. The only ingredient you need is your favorite coffee grounds, unless, of course, you are looking to add your own twist to the drink by adding milk, cream, sugar, or an added flavor of some sort. 

Simply pull the number of espresso shots you desire and add them to a cup of your favorite coffee blend. If you don’t have a drip coffee machine, you could use a French press. If you don’t have an espresso machine, you could make espresso in a French press or Mokapot


Why is it called a Red Eye coffee?

The term “red eye” has long been associated with catching the “red eye” flight, a long-haul flight that leaves late in the evening and has you arriving at your destination in the wee hours of the morning. The term “red eye” implies the need for staying awake, therefore, a Red Eye Coffee is a drink that will keep you caffeinated for a longer period of time.

Who is Red Eye or Black Eye coffee for?

Red and Black Eye Coffee are typically popular among workers who need to be awake and productive for long periods of time and who may not have the time and luxury to enjoy multiple cups of coffee throughout the day. Also, it is often ordered on the go by commuters. 

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