Espresso-Based Beverages – Red Eye Coffee

Red Eye coffee is an espresso drink famous for its caffeine content, but many coffee aficionados like it for the unique flavor obtained by combining drip coffee and espresso.

In this post, we describe the origins of the Red Eye Coffee drink and we show you what makes it different from other espresso drinks. We also explain why Red Eye coffee it is popular and how to make red eye coffee at home.

red eye coffee
Red Eye Coffee

What is Red eye Coffee?

Red eye coffee is an espresso drink that is made by combining drip coffee with one shot of espresso.

In, Kansas, red eye is known as an “oil spill”. In Colorado and New Mexico, it is sometimes called a “Shot in the Dark.”  In Vancouver (Canada) is sometimes called a “Double Drip”. (coffee.fandom.com)

This coffee is named the red eye because of the extra caffeine content in the beverage that is needed for those who are take early morning flights referred to as red eye flights, very often from the east coast to the west coast of the United States.

The name “red eye” coffee is a reference to the extra caffeine needed for those who fly late into the night and or very early in the morning. A “red eye flight,” is an overnight airline flight, causing the passengers to have tired red eyes.

Regardless of the travel reference, the red eye coffee is a popular drink for its extra caffeine kick. However, coffee connoisseurs appreciate the red eye flavor. If both the filter coffee and the espresso are prepared correctly, when combined they offer a unique flavor combining more subtle origin notes with the bolder espresso flavors.

What does red eye coffee taste like?

Red eye coffee tastes just like you’d expect a drip coffee with a hint of espresso flavor.

The aroma of the espresso is definitely overshadowed by the flavor of the drip coffee. This is great for people who like a bolder drip coffee, that retains its origin notes.

Red eye coffee is for me a better version of the Americano. Keep all the flavor, but tone down the espresso. The only disadvantage is for those who like exclusively only drip coffee, or only espresso in their pure form.

I warmly recommend the red eye to anyone who like to try new flavors with their coffee. I also recommend it to coffee lovers who like a stronger regular drip coffee. The added espresso shot gives it more body without killing the brightness.

You are mixing two different types of coffee, and this is perfect opportunity to explore blending flavors.

Red Eye vs Black Eye vs Dead Eye Coffee

There are a few variations of the drink that refer to the amount of espresso shots added. Red eye coffee contains 1 espresso shot, black eye coffee has a double shot of espresso, and dead eye or green eye has a triple espresso shot.

black eye coffee 1
Black Eye Coffee contains two espresso shots

I personally see red eye as a specialty coffee, because the flavors of the drip coffee and the espresso create a new and unique espresso-based beverage. However, in my opinion, the stronger variants are just that, caffeine vehicle.

Dead eye coffee is even dangerous, considering the amount of caffeine in a single beverage. A single shot of espresso contains on average about 60 mg of caffeine. A drip coffee contains about 120 mg of caffeine. A dead eye coffee subsequently contains 300 mg of caffeine.

While 400 milligrams of caffeine per day appear to be safe for most people, downing 300 milligrams of caffeine in a single serve is a bit too much at once, and I think it’s an exaggeration.

Where to Get Red Eye Coffee?

The easiest is to make it at home, if you have the equipment and the knowledge. You would need a coffee dripper, an espresso machine, and a coffee grinder. Recipe follows in a bit.

If you can’t make it at home, you can ask your Starbucks barista to make it for you. The red eye is certainly not on the public menu, but the secret Starbucks menu has is. Trust me, ask your barista and they’ll know what you want.

You can probably order it in any decent coffee shop. If the barista doesn’t know how to prepare one, just order the coffees separately and mix them yourself.

How to Prepare Red Eye Coffee

The best red eye coffee is prepared at home, because you can control the quality and the recipe of both your drip coffee method and the espresso method. This will ensure your coffee is a delicious and  flavorful joe that qualifies as gourmet coffee, and is not just a simple method of caffeinate.

Here is the generic outline of the steps, followed by a more detailed description on how to make coffee.

  • Brew 1 cup drip coffee (6-8 fluid ounces).
  • Pull 1  single shot of espresso (1 fluid ounce).
  • Pour the espresso into the drip coffee.

We recommend using a different type of coffee beans for maximum flavor. We recommend a lighter roast for the drip coffee, as brews a brighter cup, and a medium-dark roast for the espresso, which gives the cup some body and sweetness.

We recommend using drip coffee for the non-espresso part. Some recipes suggest that any coffee brewing method is acceptable, as long as it provides a longer coffee. However, in my opinion, the best flavor is obtained by using drip coffee.

Detailed Step-by-Step Recipe

If you want to make red eye coffee at home, and you want the real redeye flavor profile, you need to be an experienced home barista, and own some hype coffee brewing equipment.

For the sake of simplicity, my recipe uses a manual coffee dripper, but you can use a good automatic drip coffee machine. I used for the purpose of this recipe a Melitta dripper, but if you have a different manual drip coffee maker, it’s even better, (you have experience using that).

Here is the list of equipment and ingredients.

  1. A Melitta pour over dripper.
  2. Paper filters
  3. Burr coffee grinder
  4. Espresso machine
  5. Tamper
  6. Kitchen scale
  7. Gooseneck kettle, ideally a variable temperature one.
  8. East African – medium-light roasted coffee beans for the drip coffee.
  9. South-American – medium-dark coffee beans for the espresso (I like good quality Brazilian beans)
  10. Spring water, of filtered water

These are the steps to prepare the redeye coffee:

Prepare the drip coffee first, as follows:

  • Put the kettle on. If you have a variable temperature kettle, set it to 200°F, (give or take 4 degrees).
  • Warm up a coffee mug by filling it with hot water. Leave the water in the mug until you are ready to pour over.
  • Place the Melitta filter on the drip cone.
  • Weigh on the kitchen scale 10 grams of medium-light roasted coffee, That’s approximately 2 TBSP.
  • Grind the coffee medium fine. If coffee pours too fast through the filter in the cup, you might need to grind finer.
  • Place the ground coffee in the filter padded cone.
  • Dump the hot water from the warmed mug, and place the drip cone on top of the mug.
  • Place the mug and the cone on the scale, and set the scale to 0. This way you can measure how much water you use, for the perfect grounds to water ratio.
  • Take the kettle and pour hot water over the coffee grounds into the cone, with circular concentric movements until all of the grounds are wet.
  • Let the grounds bloom for about 30 seconds. Doing this we are saturating the coffee grounds with water.
  • After the 30 seconds bloom, continue to pour water, in a circular motion, until the cone is full. If you pour the water slower, the final cup will be bolder and more developed.
  • Pour around 200 ml of water or so in total. The goal is to end up with 180 ml of coffee in your cup. This is the SCAA golden ratio.
  • Remove the cone from the mug, discard the spent grounds, and put the freshly brewed coffee aside.

Prepare the espresso shot now, as follows:

  • Grind espresso size 7-9 grams of medium-dark espresso beans. I recommend a South American single origin. If you never pulled an espresso, here is our detailed espresso brewing guide.
  • The grind is your usual espresso grind size. If you change the beans from your regular, you might need to make minutia changes to the grind size.
  • Place the portafilter on the scale and set the scale to 0.
  • Pour the coffee grounds in the portafilter, measuring 7 grams of ground coffee. The dose depends on you filter-basket. On some baskets the dose is marked on the side. A single basket can vary between 7 and 9 grams depending on the manufacturer.
  • Lightly tap the portafilter on the kitchen counter to pack the grounds and tamp. Press the tamper evenly and firmly on the grounds until the coffee puck is fully compressed. You should have now a few millimeters space in the basket.
  • Lock the portafilter in the brew head of the espresso machine and press the brew button to start pulling the shot. Stop the extraction after 20 to 25 seconds, or until the stream “blondes”.

Combine the two drinks:

  • Pour the freshly extracted espresso over the drip coffee.
  • Make sure you transfer the crema from the demitasse into the drip coffee mug. Crema tends to stick to the cup.

Alternatively, if you are experienced with pulling espresso shots, and the espresso machine has enough space under the spout, you can pull the shot directly over the drip brew into the coffee mug. This ensures all of your crema is in your coffee, and there is no heat transfer from cup to cup.

red eye coffee

Red Eye Coffee

BEC-admin
Red eye coffee is an espresso drink made by combining drip coffee with one shot of espresso. While red eye is famous for its caffeine content, many coffee lovers choose it for the unique flavor obtained by combining drip coffee and espresso.
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Prep Time 3 mins
Cook Time 4 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 2 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Melitta pour over dripper
  • 1 Paper filters for Melitta dripper
  • 1 burr coffee grinder
  • 1 espresso machine
  • 1 tamper
  • 1 kitchen scale
  • 1 Gooseneck kettle ideally a variable temperature one

Ingredients
  

  • 10 grams East African – medium-light roasted coffee beans Kenya are a great choice
  • 7-9 grams South-American – medium-dark coffee beans Good quality Brazilian beans
  • 200 milliliters Filtered water, or spring water for the drip coffee
  • 35 milliliters Filtered water, or spring water for the espresso shot

Instructions
 

  • Turn the kettle on. If you have a variable temperature kettle, set it to 200°F
  • Fill a coffee mug with hot water to warm it up.
  • Place the Melitta paper filter on the drip cone.
  • Weigh on the kitchen scale 10 grams of medium-light roasted coffee. If you don't have a kitchen scale, that's about 2 TBSP.
  • Grind the coffee beans to a medium-fine grind.
  • Pour the ground coffee in the drip cone.
  • Dump the hot water from the warmed mug, and place the drip cone on top of the mug.
  • Place the mug and the cone on the scale, and set the scale to 0.
  • Using your kettle pour hot water over the coffee grounds into the cone, with circular concentric movements until. The aim is to wet all of the coffee grounds.
  • Let the coffee grounds bloom for about 30 seconds. Doing this we are saturating the coffee grounds with water.
  • After 30 seconds, continue to pour water, in a circular motion, until the cone is full.
  • Pour around 200 ml of water or so in total. The goal is to end up with 180 ml of coffee in your cup.
  • Remove the cone from the mug, discard the spent grounds.
  • Grind espresso size 7-9 grams of medium-dark espresso beans.
  • Place the portafilter on the scale and set the scale to 0.
  • Pour the coffee grounds in the portafilter, measuring 7 to 9 grams of ground coffee. The dose depends on your filter-basket.
  • Lightly tap the portafilter on the tamping mat to pack the grounds and then tamp. Press the tamper firmly until the coffee is compressed into a puck.
  • Lock the portafilter in the espresso machine and start brewing. Stop the extraction after 20 to 25 seconds, or until the stream "blondes".
  • Pour the espresso over the drip coffee, making sure you transfer the crema from the demitasse into the drip coffee mug.

Nutrition

Calories: 2kcal
Keyword coffee, espresso, espresso-based drinks, red eye
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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