The Red Eye coffee is a classic espresso drink containing drip-brew coffee, which makes the coffee stronger. Ordering a ‘Red Eye’ tells the barista that you’re more tired than normal and you’ll need more caffeine. It’s a popular drink with a lot of nicknames, such as ‘sludge cup,’ ‘shot in the dark,’ and dozens of other localized names. Read on to find out exactly what a Red Eye coffee is and how to make it at home:
What’s a Red Eye Coffee?
A Red Eye coffee is when drip-coffee and espresso are added together, though the order in which they’re poured is up for debate. Some recipes will start with espresso first and drip-brewed coffee second, while other recipes insist on having the coffee first so that the espresso is on top.
Regardless of whether it’s drip coffee or espresso first, a red eye coffee is named after the caffeine jolt it gives the drinker from the extra caffeine. Red Eye coffee has a lot of localized nicknames, as well as Black Eye coffee and triple-shots added to coffee.
Does the Number of Shots Matter?
Yes and no. Some coffee shops add a double and call it a Red Eye coffee, while others call that a Black Eye coffee. Traditionally, a Red Eye coffee contains only one shot of espresso with drip-brewed coffee. However, most coffee shops now pull double shots instead of single.
Some coffee shops will still pull a double-shot if a customer asks for a single and split it in half, which tastes different than a true single-shot. The single-shot vs. split double may get confusing, but you can simply ask the coffee shop to pull a single or split the double.
What’s a Black Eye Coffee?
Where the traditional Red Eye coffee has one shot of espresso with drip coffee, the Black Eye has two shots of espresso. It contains more caffeine than the Red Eye, but not as much as the Dead Eye or Green Eye (three shots). It’ll have the sweetness of the espresso with the acidity that drip coffee always has, but it can be very strong in bitterness and flavor if you’re not used to espresso.
What’s a Canadiano?
Although it’s not a popular nickname and the name may be misleading to other coffee-related topics, the ‘Canadiano’ is occasionally a nickname of the Red Eye as a light jab towards the Americano. That’s because the Red Eye/Canadiano adds coffee to their espresso, and the Americano adds water, indicating that the Americano is the weaker choice.
Difference Between Coffee and Espresso
The difference between coffee and espresso is that espresso brews much faster than coffee. It requires finely ground and packed tight, then very hot water is pressure-shot through it within seconds. Coffee takes a longer time to brew, regardless of the brewing method.
The Red Eye coffee must be made with drip coffee and espresso for it to be a real Red Eye coffee since the brewing method for espresso is completely different. Even the coffee itself must be drip coffee, so pour-over and French press coffee won’t do.
Could I Swap Espresso for Dark Roast?
Unfortunately, no. Red Eye coffee needs one shot of espresso, which has a different taste and brewing method than dark roast coffee. While dark roast may taste and feel stronger, it’s still coffee and can’t swap espresso out for a Red Eye.
How to Make a Red Eye Coffee
- Drip coffee maker
- Espresso machine
- Coffee mug
- 1 ounce finely-ground coffee beans
- 0.6 ounces medium-ground coffee beans
- 12 ounces filtered water
- Start brewing the drip coffee.
- Brew the espresso right before the coffee is done (single or double, whichever you choose), then pour it into a coffee mug.
- Once the coffee is ready, pour it over the espresso shot and enjoy.
Featured Image: Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain