Making the Black Eye Coffee and History of Its Many Names

While this is related to Red Eye coffee, the Black Eye still has an interesting background that is littered with associated names to describe this jolt of a coffee drink. Here is what we’ve uncovered about Black eye coffee that you haven’t heard before.

Black Eye coffee cup in girl hands

The typical Red Eye is really just a shot of espresso in a cup of coffee. But there are some maniacs out there who take it a step further and add two shots of espresso to their coffee in the morning. Depending on where you grew up, coffee houses all had different names for this kind of heavy-duty java. So it won’t be much of a surprise that there are often cross-over names that also apply to the red eye since it’s a regional thing…

Endless Names & History of Black Eye Coffee

Black eye coffee has also been called a Sling Blade, Hammerhead, Autobahn, Shot in the Dark, and Café Tobio. It’s also been called a Golden Nugget, Shot Put, Depth Charge, or Double Shot in the Dark. This version has been around since the red eye was invented sometime after 1978, but was never served on any airline that we know of. It actually got its name due to the circular black ring it makes after the espresso is poured into coffee with cream.

Now, typically a standard black eye is loaded with a minimum of 221mg of caffeine, thus making it a powerful cup of joe. But that doesn’t exclude the levels of caffeine that some Black Eye coffee versions can obtain. Reportedly, the Depth Charge red eye served by Caribou Coffee features 445mg of caffeine in their recipe for this mixture. Needless to say, the Depth Charge really delivers a powerful punch!
A man see Caribou coffee shop

The name Depth Charge has been used for years in some regional coffee shops to describe the black eye. Not until 2003, was this name free to use except when it was finally trademarked by Caribou Coffee. Even though they’ve been using it on their menu since 1998, they had enough financial power to make it their signature name. So much so, that it went after a smaller coffee shop that decided to put it on their menu.

The result was a cease-and-desist order from Caribou coffee! This didn’t happen once either, since it happened to two separate coffee shops. It seems that the first incident happened in 2014 to the owners of in Duluth, Minnesota. The second victim was another Duluth-based coffee shop called Grand World. It just goes to show you that Caribou Coffee is serious about protecting its trademarked name at all costs.

Dunkin Donuts Goes Nuts

In 2006, Dunkin’ Donuts jumped onto the red eye craze and introduced their version called the Turbo. It comes in two versions either hot or cold and is really just a red eye with one or more shots of espresso added. Don’t think of using the Turbo name for your coffee either, since Dunkin’ Donut will likely slap a cease-and-desist order on you too! They did this to a coffee shop that used a registered slogan from Dunkin’…

And the funny part is that their version of the red eye (or black eye) depending on how many shots you put in it, is the same recipe as everyone else!

Starbucks Breaks Their Silence

It used to be one of those outstanding urban myths that Starbucks had a so-called secret menu. Who knew that corporate coffee would need to be so secret? Apparently, they have the red eye and black eye that are offered, yet we doubt the added espresso will improve the flavor of their regular coffee… Here are some of their most guarded secret coffee drinks listed in this old blog from 2012.

Get a load of the Dalmatian aka Michael Jackson, or the JFK- which is 3 shots (of espresso) to your head. No wonder this secret menu isn’t printed, they might end up being canceled by the mob on Twitter if this info ever got leaked. Coincidentally, if you do order a black eye at Starbucks, you must specify a coffee with two extra shots in it. They don’t call it a black eye because it sounds too much like ‘black guy’ when they call it out…
pulp fiction meme

Is The Black Eye Coffee For You?

Black eye coffee cup on wood table

This type of coffee drink is very popular with students who are studying in universities or are cramming for a big test. It’s not uncommon that this type of coffee drink is good for those who need to concentrate, so anyone who works in the delivery business will look forward to a Black Eye coffee. There is a slight chance that too much caffeine is not going to be very healthy for your nervous system.

Then again, it all depends on your overall health and weight, which are common factors to think about when drinking coffee. It’s safe to say that two shots of espresso don’t contain so much caffeine if you’re used to ordering a Doppio. So adding that to a cup of coffee is merely intensifying the jolt of caffeine as you drink this concoction. If you’ve built up a tolerance to this amount of stimulation, your body has likely adjusted caffeine levels naturally.

Making Black Eye Coffee (Recipes)

Original Black Eye

Original Black Eye illustration

  • 2 shots espresso
  • 1 cup coffee


To make your espresso, use a Moka pot to brew your double shot of coffee. If you have an espresso machine, this is a bit easier to manage. A standard coffee machine makes the best drip coffee which gives you higher caffeine levels, so this is the method you should use. Pour your coffee into a mug leaving a bit of room for your espresso shots. You can add cream and sugar before adding your espresso.

This leaves you with the trademark black ring around the inner edge of your coffee mug, that the black eye was originally named after.

Black Eye Frappe

Black Eye Frappe illustration

  • 2 shots espresso
  • 1 cup coffee
  • Flavored syrup


Brew your espresso and coffee as usual and pour these together into a cup. Now carefully pour this into ice cube trays and let them freeze. This can take a couple of hours depending on your freezer. Now grab a blender and add one cup of ice cubes that are thrown into your blender. Now you add some flavored syrup to your liking. A couple of good squirts is more than enough. Add a ¼ cup of milk and blend until it’s smooth. Pour and enjoy!

Iced Black Eye

Iced Black Eye illustration

  • 2 shots espresso
  • 1 cup coffee


Brew your coffee and espresso separately and while they are brewing, grab a spare tumbler cup and a thick Ziplock bag. Add ice to your tumbler and wiggle the Ziplock bag into the middle of the cup. This is so you can pour coffee into the bag and allow the ice to cool it down very quickly without diluting it. When your coffee is done, pout the coffee first and then the espresso.

Then grab a tall cup and add fresh ice. Now you can pour the chilled coffee into your ice without it losing flavor or getting too watered down. Add a straw and enjoy!