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What is red eye coffee? This Americano cousin offers a huge caffeine boost

If you love an Americano, try red eye coffee

americano coffee
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If you love a classic Americano beverage, the red eye coffee might soon become your new favorite drink order. Unlike an Americano which consists of just espresso and water, a red eye adds espresso to coffee and skips the addition of water entirely. This unique coffee drink gets its name as a reference to the dreaded overnight “red-eye flights” that require a stronger caffeine boost to make it through. Adding a shot of espresso to fresh coffee yields a stronger drink not only in taste but also in caffeine content. Keep reading as we dive into the elusive red eye coffee, its origins, and how to make one for yourself.

What is a red eye coffee?

espresso cup
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A red eye coffee is made with freshly brewed drip coffee and added espresso shot. A traditional red eye coffee comes with about eight ounces of coffee and one shot of espresso. If you notice other variations (such as the black eye or dead eye coffees — beware that these contain more than one shot of espresso). Some places also refer to a red eye coffee as a “shot in the dark” — which seems like a fitting name.

Red eye vs. americano

espresso cup
Chevanon Photography / Pexels

Although it varies depending on size, most red eye coffees contain about 80 to 100 mg more caffeine than an Americano. Which poses the question — which should you order? The answer ultimately depends on how much caffeine you’re looking to consume and the flavor profile you prefer. If you prefer a very strong taste, you’ll love the intensity of a red eye coffee.

However, the red eye can be too much caffeine to consume in one sitting for some people, especially those very sensitive to the effects of caffeine. The red eye might not be as widely available at the Americano, as this specialty drink tends to be offered more at local coffee shops than chains such as Dunkin’ or Starbucks.

How do you make a red eye coffee?

Ashley Baxter / Unsplash

Making a red eye coffee at home is simple and easy, as long as you have an espresso maker and a coffee maker. Any type of coffee or espresso can be used to make a red eye, but using similar or the same roasts will create a more balanced flavor for your red eye coffee. A standard red eye is served black, but you can add sugar or cream (or other coffee add-ins) to taste.

The process of making a red eye coffee requires no skill, making it a universally easy drink that nearly anyone can make.


  • 8 to 10 ounces of coffee
  • One shot of espresso
  • Coffee add-ins, if desired


  1. Brew your coffee.
  2. Brew your espresso shot.
  3. Mix the espresso shot into the coffee. Enjoy right away.
Emily Caldwell
Emily is a freelance writer with a special focus on health, fitness, lifestyle, food, and nutrition topics. She holds a B.S…
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