Red Eye Vs Black Eye Coffee: What Is The Difference

Coffee lovers in the United States are always on the lookout for new and interesting ways to enjoy their favorite drink. Here’s the scoop on red eye vs black eye coffee!

coffee mug on plate with coffee beans around it

Among the many different types of coffee options available, Red Eye and Black Eye coffee are two unique varieties that stand out when it comes to strong and caffeine-rich brews. 

In order to uncover the key differences between these two simple drinks, and help you decide which one best suits your taste and caffeine preferences, it is essential to delve into their preparation, flavor, and caffeine content.

Red Eye Coffee and Black Eye Coffee

hot black coffee in a little cup

Red Eye coffee is a mix of brewed coffee with an added shot of espresso. 

The main appeal of this stimulating concoction is the heightened caffeine content and robust taste that the espresso provides.

In contrast, Black Eye coffee takes it a step further by adding two shots of espresso to the brewed coffee.

Consequently offering an even more potent caffeine fix, and an extra boost of caffeine for the ones that are in need of some serious awakening.

Understanding the distinctions between these caffeine-rich inventions can be beneficial for both standard coffee aficionados and those who need an extra boost to kick-start their day. 

From their different caffeine contents to their unique flavor profiles, the choice between Red Eye and Black Eye ultimately depends on your personal preferences and desired caffeine effect.

What is Red Eye Coffee

Red Eye Coffee is a combination of brewed coffee and a single shot of espresso. 

This strong coffee drink, which was invented to keep people awake on the so-called uncomfortable long red eye flight, used to be known as the oil spill in new york and “a shot in the dark” on the west coast. 

This coffee drink is known for its strong caffeine kick, as it combines the flavors and strengths of both espresso and brewed coffee. 

So how much caffeine goes in to give this red eye coffee drink its bold flavor?

It is made by simply adding one shot of espresso to a regular cup of coffee. Making the total amount of caffeine in a Red Eye Coffee approximately 158mg.

The purpose of a red Eye Coffee is to increase the caffeine content and provide a more substantial energy boost. 

The red eye flight coffee drink is a great way to give a little extra kick or jolt in the morning to those in need of caffeine. While they combat the dreaded afternoon slump.

What is Black Eye Coffee

Black Eye Coffee, on the other hand, is an even stronger variant of the same concept. 

Instead of adding just one shot of espresso, a black eye coffee is made by adding two shots of espresso to a cup of joe. 

As a result, the caffeine content of this strong cup of coffee is significantly higher, clocking in at around 221mg.

The increased caffeine content in Black Eye Coffee makes it an even more powerful pick-me-up. It’s suitable for those who require a more significant caffeine boost. 

It’s ideal for people who work long hours, have late-night study sessions, or just love the taste of a robust coffee drink.

In summary:

  • Red Eye Coffee:
    • Brewed coffee + 1 shot of espresso
    • Caffeine content: 158mg
  • Black Eye Coffee:
    • Brewed coffee + 2 shots of espresso
    • Caffeine content: 221mg

Caffeine Content Comparison

black coffee with beans on wooden table

When choosing between a Red Eye coffee and a Black Eye coffee, it is essential to understand the amount of coffee in each of these beverages. 

Here’s the scoop on the caffeine content comparison, taking into account the caffeine content of red eye and black eye coffees.

Red Eye Caffeine Content

A Red Eye coffee contains a blend of regular drip coffee and a single shot of espresso.

On average, an 8-ounce cup of drip coffee has around 95 milligrams of caffeine. Whereas a single shot of espresso contains approximately 63 milligrams of caffeine. 

Thus, an average Red Eye coffee would have a total caffeine content of 158 milligrams (95mg + 63mg).

Black Eye Caffeine Content

Unlike a Red Eye coffee, a Black Eye coffee is made by blending drip coffee with an additional shot of espresso. 

This drink uses two shots of espresso. 

Using the same average values for an 8-ounce cup of drip coffee (95 milligrams) and a shot of espresso (63 milligrams), a Black Eye coffee would have a higher caffeine content of 221 milligrams (95mg + (63mg x 2)).

It’s important to note that individual caffeine tolerance varies from person to person.

So understanding your own tolerance will help you choose the right type of coffee for your needs. 

Moreover, consider that the recommended daily caffeine consumption for a healthy adult should not exceed 400 milligrams.

The caffeine content in a Red Eye coffee is around 158 milligrams, while a Black Eye coffee has approximately 221 milligrams of caffeine. 

Make sure to assess your caffeine tolerance and needs before choosing between these two beverages.

Taste and Flavor Profiles

white coffee cup on white serving plate

Drip Coffee and Espresso

When it comes to the taste and unique flavor profile of Red Eye and Black Eye Coffee, both beverages begin with a base of drip coffee. 

However, they differ in the amount of espresso added. 

A Red Eye Coffee includes one shot of espresso, while a Black Eye Coffee has two shots. 

This extra espresso shot in Black Eye influences its bold and robust flavor. Making it generally stronger in espresso flavor compared to Red Eye.

Additionally, the choice of roast for the drip coffee can impact the overall taste. 

Using a lighter roast of coffee beans can enhance the fruity and floral flavors in the beverage. While a darker roast, such as a medium roast or dark roast, might introduce more depth and robustness.

Strength and Unique Taste

Red Eye and Black Eye Coffees have unique tastes due to the combination of drip coffee and espresso. 

However, the strength of their coffee flavors varies due to the difference in the number of espresso shots. 

A Red Eye Coffee is milder in taste, providing a more subtle espresso flavor. In contrast, a Black Eye Coffee has a more intense coffee flavor, mainly due to the double shot of espresso.

The caffeine content in these drinks also plays a role in their taste profiles. 

Red Eye Coffee has between 335 to 435 mg of caffeine, while Black Eye Coffee contains 410 to 510 mg of caffeine. 

As a result, the higher caffeine content in Black Eye Coffee can lead to a slightly more acidic and bitter taste.

The choice between a Red Eye and a Black Eye Coffee depends on individual preferences. 

Those seeking a strong coffee flavor with powerful kick should choose Black Eye. While those who prefer a more subtle touch might opt for Red Eye.

Other Espresso and Coffee Combinations

coffee mug filled with coffee

There are other espresso and coffee combinations worth mentioning when discussing red-eye and black-eye coffee. 

Here’s the scoop on dead eye and green eye coffee.

Dead Eye Coffee

For those of you who feel like a train wreck in the morning, dead eye coffee is another powerful caffeine concoction that involves adding three espresso shots to regular cups of coffee that are brewed. 

It offers an even stronger caffeine kick, containing a total of 284mg of caffeine. Which is significantly more than what you’d find in a red eye or black eye coffee.

Dead eye coffee can be the perfect choice for those who need an intense caffeine boost to stay alert and focused throughout the day. 

However, it’s essential to consume this drink responsibly, as excessive caffeine intake can lead to side effects. Such as increased heart rate, jitters, or sleep disturbances.

Green Eye Coffee

Also known as the green eye or triple eye coffee, this combination consists of adding three espresso shots to your cup of regular brewed coffee, resulting in a caffeine content similar to that of a dead eye coffee. 

While not as well-known as the red eye or black eye coffee, the green eye is an appealing option with a stronger flavor for those seeking an even more potent caffeine kick. 

Like the dead eye coffee, green eye coffee, while a great option, should be consumed with caution, especially for individuals sensitive to caffeine or those who are not accustomed to high caffeine content.

While red eye and black eye coffees are popular espresso and coffee combinations, exploring other options such as dead eye and green eye coffee can provide even greater caffeine boosts for avid coffee drinkers. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind the potential side effects of consuming excessive caffeine and consuming these potent drinks responsibly.

Brewing Methods and Equipment

girl holding coffee in mug

Espresso Machine

Using an espresso machine is the most traditional way to make the espresso shots required for red eye and black eye coffee. 

Espresso machines work by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee, resulting in a highly concentrated and flavorful espresso. 

To make red-eye coffee, simply add one shot of espresso to a cup of brewed coffee. 

For a black eye, add an extra shot of espresso, making that two shots of espresso, to your coffee.


The Aeropress is a versatile and portable brewing device that can be used to make espresso-like coffee, which can then be combined with brewed coffee. 

To make espresso with the Aeropress:

  1. Fill the Aeropress with fine coffee grounds up to the 4 mark
  2. Add water heated to 195°F (90°C) to the 2 mark
  3. Stir, attach the cap with filter, and press down quickly over a cup

Add the resulting concentrated coffee to brewed coffee for red eye or black eye coffee variants.

Moka Pot

A Moka pot is another option for making espresso-like coffee at home. 

The Moka pot uses steam pressure to force hot water through coffee grounds, producing a concentrated coffee. 

To use a Moka pot:

  1. Fill the bottom chamber with water up to the fill line
  2. Add finely-ground coffee into the filter funnel
  3. Assemble the Moka pot and place it on a heat source
  4. Wait for coffee to fill the upper chamber, then remove from heat

Combine the resulting coffee with brewed coffee to create a red eye or black eye coffee.

French Press

Although generally used for brewing regular coffee, a French press can be adapted to your brewing method in order to make a stronger coffee suitable for red eye or black eye beverages. 

To make a more concentrated coffee with a French press:

  1. Use a 1:10 coffee-to-water ratio (e.g., 50g coffee and 500ml water)
  2. Steep the coffee for 8 minutes, instead of the usual 4 minutes
  3. Press and pour the concentrated coffee

Combine with your desired amount of espresso or espresso-like coffee for your black eye or red eye drink.

Coffee Maker

A regular coffee maker can also be used to brew the coffee for your red eye or black eye coffee. 

Simply brew a batch of your favorite coffee using a drip coffee maker, pour-over, or any method you prefer. 

Once the coffee is ready, add the espresso or concentrated coffee using one of the methods described above to achieve the desired red eye or black eye coffee.

hot black coffee in mug


Starbucks offers a variety of eye-opening coffee options that cater to those seeking an extra caffeine boost. 

Among the popular choices are the red eye and black eye coffees, both of which are regular brewed coffees with added espresso shots. 

The main difference between the two lies in the number of espresso shots added: a red eye includes one shot, while a black eye has two shots.

The caffeine content for Starbucks red eye coffee is approximately 158mg, while the black eye coffee contains about 221mg of caffeine. 

Some customers may also order a dead eye coffee in coffee houses, which has three shots of espresso added to a cup of brewed coffee, resulting in a whopping 284mg of caffeine.

Differences in Names

Across various coffee shops and regions, the same coffee concoctions may go by different names:

  • Red eye: Also commonly referred to as a shot in the dark, depth charge, Canadiano, or stink eye.
  • Black eye: Alternately called a hammerhead, third rail, or atomic blast.

These different names usually refer to the same combinations of coffee and espresso shots, however, some minor variations may exist.

For example, a sludge cup may refer to a black eye coffee with an increased proportion of finely ground coffee, resulting in a thicker consistency.

When selecting your coffee at Starbucks or any other coffee chain, it is essential to understand the terminologies associated with these popular options. 

In addition, don’t hesitate to ask the barista if you are unsure about the specific ingredients involved in a particular specialty drink. 

Regardless of the name or term used, the ultimate goal is to find the perfect coffee concoction that satisfies both your taste buds and your desired caffeine boost.

Energy and Sleep Effects

top view of black coffee mug

Red eye and black eye coffee both have the potential to affect your energy levels and sleep patterns due to their caffeine content. 

Red eye coffee contains one shot of espresso, while black eye coffee has two shots of espresso. 

As a result, black eye coffee typically has higher caffeine content than red eye coffee.

Energy Boost

Caffeine is known for its ability to provide a boost of energy when consumed. 

Because black eye coffee contains more caffeine than red eye coffee, it can lead to a more significant increase in energy levels. 

To give you an idea of the caffeine content, red eye coffee contains approximately 158mg of caffeine, while black eye coffee has about 221mg of caffeine.

However, it’s crucial to remember that every individual may respond differently to caffeine, and factors such as body weight, tolerance, and even genetics can play a role in how the energy boost is experienced.

Sleep Disruption

Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with your sleep patterns. 

Consuming high amounts of caffeine, especially later in the day, may lead to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restful sleep. 

Since black eye coffee has a higher caffeine content than red eye coffee, it’s more likely to disrupt sleep if consumed too close to bedtime.


While caffeine can temporarily increase energy levels, it may also lead to fatigue once its effects wear off. 

This is because caffeine blocks adenosine, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleepiness. 

When caffeine wears off, adenosine can surge, causing increased fatigue. 

Consuming black eye coffee, with its higher caffeine content, can potentially lead to more significant fatigue once the effects of caffeine subside.

Both red eye and black eye coffee have the potential to impact caffeine levels, sleep patterns, and fatigue due to their caffeine content. 

Black eye coffee contains more caffeine than red eye coffee, which can lead to a more substantial energy boost, but also increase the likelihood of sleep disruption and fatigue.

Customizing Your Beverage

hot black coffee in coffee mug and spoon

Adding Sweeteners

Experimenting with different sweeteners can be an enjoyable way to enhance your red eye or black eye coffee, whether you’re making a cold brew of black coffee, a normal drip coffee, or a latte macchiato. 

Common sweeteners include sugar, honey, and artificial sweeteners. 

You may prefer one over the other based on personal taste or dietary restrictions.

  • Sugar: The classic option for many coffee drinkers, it adds sweetness without altering the coffee’s flavor. Start with a small amount and adjust according to taste.
  • Honey: A natural sweetener with a distinct flavor, honey can add a unique twist to your beverage. Its viscosity may make it more difficult to dissolve, so ensure you mix it thoroughly.
  • Artificial sweeteners: Options like Stevia or Splenda can be suitable for those who want sweetness without added calories or sugar.

Adding Flavors

If you’re looking to customize your red eye or black eye coffee further, consider incorporating different flavors. A skilled barista can create a tasteful mix of coffee and flavorings.

Here are some ideas:

  • Syrups: Flavored syrups such as vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut can enhance the taste of your beverage, creating a more indulgent experience.
  • Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, or even a pinch of cayenne pepper can add an extra dimension to your drink. Sprinkle the spices on top or stir them into your coffee.
  • Creamers: Adding a flavored creamer can give your coffee a subtle taste and creamy texture. Be cautious with the quantity, as it can easily overpower your drink.

When experimenting with sweeteners and flavorings, be aware that a black eye coffee has a bolder taste due to double the espresso, which could affect how the flavors meld. 

It may be necessary to adjust the sweeteners or flavorings to accommodate the stronger black ring around the cup. 

Remember, customization should enhance your coffee experience, not detract from it.

Final Thoughts

In comparing Red Eye and Black Eye coffee, the most evident difference between these two caffeinated beverages is the number of espresso shots added to each. 

As Red Eye coffee typically contains one shot of espresso, it has a lower caffeine content compared to Black Eye coffee, which has two shots of espresso.

To sum it up, here’s the approximate caffeine content of each:

  • Red Eye coffee: 158mg of caffeine
  • Black Eye coffee: 221mg of caffeine

For coffee enthusiasts seeking a serious caffeine boost, Black Eye coffee is the better and popular choice. 

However, if you prefer a slightly less intense experience without sacrificing the added kick that espresso provides, Red Eye coffee is the way to go.

It’s essential to keep in mind that the effect of these caffeine-packed coffees on an individual may vary based on factors such as tolerance and sensitivity. 

Therefore, it’s recommended to try both Red Eye and Black Eye coffee in moderation and assess how each works best according to your personal preference. 

red eye vs black eye coffee Pinterest image

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