[[caption-width-right:256:The various flavors of humanity.]]

->''"Her lips are devil red''\\
''And her skin's the color of mocha''\\
''She will wear you out''\\
''Livin' la vida loca"''
-->-- ''La Vida Loca'', '''Music/RickyMartin'''

Black characters in fiction are often described as having a skin color that looks like some kind of coffee beverage. This is especially likely if the character in question is of mixed race or if they are meant to be attractive. Sometimes those two concepts will be [[IncrediblyLamePun mixed]] [[ButNotTooBlack together]].

When describing the skin of a black person, just calling someone "black" is BeigeProse, it won't stick in the mind, and also incredibly inaccurate. The colors of "black" skin vary more - even more widely than the colors of "white" skin. You may find comparisons of "honey" or "caramel" for the range of golden-browns with the use of "chocolate" or "mocha" for darker shades. "White" skin is most often compared to "cream" or "milk," with "peaches and cream" a fairly common term to refer to a fair complexion with pinkish undertones, alongside non-food descriptors such as "ivory" and "alabaster." You may also encounter mixed-race characters who have "some cream in their coffee". ''Cafe au lait'' is another favorite, which resembles the look of coffee and milk. Occasionally other color metaphors will be used; some will be based on food and some will not.

This concept is more common in the United States than in most other English-speaking countries, both because of the USA's greater diversity and (somewhat paradoxically) its rigid color line. There are many Americans who are AmbiguouslyBrown enough that they won't be assigned to a clear-cut race. All too often, anyone who isn't a paler pinkish-yellow than a medium-rare pork chop (''especially'' if they were born into Islam or one of the "Eastern" religions, or do not speak English as their first and preferably only language) will not qualify as "white", instead being referred to as "olive" or "beige" or just plain "brown."

This trope most often occurs in literature, where the audience can't see the character's skin color, but it is occasionally used in visual media like movies or theater when one character describes a second character. In the former case, it's become regarded as something of a cliché (if not quite a DeadHorseTrope), to the point of "how to write" guides advising aspiring writers to avoid it.

[[folder: Advertising ]]

* Cuban sugar sellers used to advertise the colors of their various sugars in relation to pictures of women with analogous skin tones. They ranged all the way from "wild" (dark brown) to "[[UnfortunateImplications refined]]" (lily white), with every color in between.


[[folder: Anime & Manga ]]

* In ''Manga/{{Appleseed}}'' Deunan Knute is referred to having "café au lait" skin in the manga.


[[folder: Comedy ]]

* Creator/ReddFoxx, in one of his [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHMXp5qyY00 stand-up routines]], said that the colors of black people could range from "black walnut, burnt almond, chocolate, chocolate mocha, pecan, vanilla, yellow, mellow, light, bright, and damn near white".
* While not specifically referencing coffee, Wanda Sykes did use this in a comedy routine. She mentioned how the "random screenings" at airports weren't really random, mentioning that they had a Benjamin Moore paint chart at the gate, and if you were darker than "khaki," you were getting screened.
* [[http://www.buzzfeed.com/hnigatu/if-white-characters-were-described-like-people-of-color-in-l#29dmzjj This article]] on Buzzfeed, entitled "If White Characters Were Described Like People Of Color In Literature," parodies the trope by describing various white characters in food-related terms: tapioca, raw chicken breast, mayonnaise, etc...
--> "She had brown, wiry hair and skin that can only be described as the color of the inside of an apple. The mushy ones not the cool, crisp ones."
* Cynical Jewish comedienne Julia Gorin, who has a relatively swarthy complexion, has described herself as a "toasted Jew", and once complained that she fell into a sort of racial UncannyValley where's she's too dark to pass for a stereotypical blond beauty and too light to count as [[RaceFetish "exotic"]], so neither white men nor [[WhereDaWhiteWomenAt black men who like white women]] find her sexually appealing.


[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* The first issue of ''ComicBook/TheSpirit'' revival featured a dark skinned woman named Ginger Coffee.


[[folder: Fanfiction ]]

* In ProjectTatterdemalion, when [[AmbiguouslyBrown Yoruichi]] is told that they can never be sure whether they got all the [[OurZombiesAreDifferent Hollow]] DNA out of the infected, the paling of her skin is compared to the swirling of cream into coffee.


[[folder: Film ]]

* In the ''Film/{{Daredevil}}'' movie, an old lady sitting next to Bullseye on a plane rambles on about her daughter in law eloping with "this semi-colored fellow from London. What's the word for that? [[RacistGrandma Mulatto]]. Let's just say he had a little cream in his coffee."
* The French film ''{{Metisse}}'' (derived from mixticius, meaning mixed, compare the Spainish and Portugese term Mestizo) was called ''Cafe Au Lait'' in the US as a DoubleMeaningTitle reference to the mixed race characters, mix of the characters races and the french style coffees they all drank.
* Used in ''Film/BringingDownTheHouse'' when Peter's friend [[Creator/EugeneLevy Howie]] sees [[Music/QueenLatifah Charlene]] for the first time. "Swing it, you cocoa goddess..."
* In ''Film/{{Hallelujah}}'', which had an all-black cast, Chick the MsFanservice character is called "high yellow" by a darker-skinned black man.
* ''Film/DaughtersOfTheDust'': Viola's cousin Mary is called "Yellow Mary", although Viola somewhat sourly notes that Mary isn't actually all that light-skinned.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* The first-person teenaged protagonist of ''Literature/SummerOfMyGermanSoldier'' describes her family's maid, Ruth, as having skin "the color of hot chocolate before the marshamallow bleeds in."
* Shaunee Cole from ''Literature/TheHouseOfNight'' is described as having "Cafe au Lait" skin a couple of times.
* The novels of E. Lynn Harris describe characters like this.
* Used in ''Literature/{{Everworld}}'' when describing people in a city as being "from latte to espresso"- logical, since one of the characters actually works at a Starbucks.
* Creator/TamoraPierce does it more than once. In the ''Literature/CircleOfMagic'' universe, Briar and Lark have "honey brown" skin and Daja and Frostpine have "dark chocolate" skin. The twins from ''Cold Fire'' are also described as having honey-brown skin.
* ''Prom'' by Laurie Halse Anderson has a "dark coffee" girl and a "caramel" guy (with "hot-fudge eyes," no less).
* In ''Literature/TheGreatGillyHopkins'', the title character's teacher is "tea-colored."
* ''Literature/ArtemisFowl'' heroine Holly Short is variously described as having "nut-brown" or "coffee" coloured skin. The Artemis Fowl Files, a companion book, says her whole species is brown-skinned, but only she gets the fancy adjectives.
* Half-black, half-Japanese Hiro in ''Literature/SnowCrash'' has "cappucino" skin.
* In ''Literature/DocSidhe'' by Creator/AaronAllston, Ish (a princess of a South American tribe) is described as having 'coffee-with-cream' skin.
* Jasper Peavey in ''Literature/FriedGreenTomatoesAtTheWhistleStopCafe'' is described as having 'coffee-with-cream' skin.
* In ''Literature/ThePrincesOfTheAir'' by Creator/JohnMFord there's a scene where the protagonist and a woman he's interested in are having coffee together, and it's noted in passing that her skin tone matches the coffee-with-cream they're drinking.
* In his ''Literature/CallahansCrosstimeSaloon'' series Creator/SpiderRobinson references and expands upon the concept with the following speech, delivered by a drunken Irish Sidhe:
** �I traveled the world in me youth, and I noticed yez/mocha, mahogany, chestnut and cocoa/ochre and umber and amber and gold/coffee with cream, coffee with milk, coffee with nothin� but Tullamore Dew/amber and anatase, russet and chocolate, both the siennas, the burnt and the raw/hazel and sepia, several more/an� never a black man or woman I saw.�
* When anthropologist Karen [=McCarthy=] Brown first meets the Haitian title character in the ethnography ''[[http://www.amazon.com/Mama-Lola-Priestess-Brooklyn-ebook/dp/B0024NLN5C/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&qid=1265429908&sr=8-1 Mama Lola: A Voudou Priestess in Brooklyn]]'', she describes her skin as having the color of coffee ice cream.
* In a [[TheAllConcealingI blink-and-you'll-miss-it viewpoint character description]] characteristic of Creator/NeilGaiman, Shadow of ''Literature/AmericanGods'' is described as having a cream-and-coffee complexion. Whether that means he's [[ButNotTooBlack Not Too Black]] on his mother's side, [[ButNotTooWhite Not Too White]] on his father's side, or even the less-likely-in-context "dark cream in some places, light coffee in others" has been [[InternetBackdraft hotly contested]] amongst fans.
* Slightly confusingly for people used to this trope, Creator/EnidBlyton generally used this kind of language to describe tanned ''white'' people.
* Appears in ''[[Literature/WorldWar Homeward Bound]]'' by Creator/HarryTurtledove--as part of an IncrediblyLamePun, as it's used to describe a black military officer called Coffey.
* Hazel and her mother from ''Literature/{{The Heroes of Olympus}}'' are both described as having " skin like a roasted coffee bean,"
* Found in a lot of stories by Creator/WalterMosley
* Found in ''Literature/TheMortalInstruments'', where for example the biracial character Maia is introduced as having "honeyed" skin. Author Creator/CassandraClare discussed her choices in describing skin tones in a [[http://cassandraclare.tumblr.com/post/23181390945/magnus blog post]], where she admitted that she risked coming off as ethnocentric due to not giving similar descriptions to Caucasian characters.
* Hunter from ''Literature/{{Neverwhere}}'' has caramel skin. And caramel eyes. And a caramel laugh. The word is repeated a ''lot'' in descriptions of her.
* Played with in ''Ella Enchanted'', where Ella describes Areida in food terms � after having been practically starved for three days, so ''everything'' reminds her of food.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/{{Angel}}'' once described Jasmine as "mocha".
* In one episode of ''Series/WillAndGrace,'' when Grace is about to dump a man played by Gregory Hines, Will wonders why, since not too long before, Grace was pouring milk in her cappuccino to show him what pretty colors their kids would be.
* The Human Color Wheel from ''Series/{{Community}}''. It goes from Seal to Seal's teeth!
* Similarly, on one episode of ''Series/Room101'' the guest wanted to banish celebrities who wear so much fake tan that they look like [[Film/WillyWonkaAndTheChocolateFactory Oompa-Loompas]]. The host presented various photographs of such celebrities that the guest had to place on a color scale ranging from 1975 Music/MichaelJackson to 2005 Music/MichaelJackson.
* In ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'', Raj's skin is frequently compared to caramel, both by himself and by others. One character even says she wants to dip an apple in his face.


[[folder: Music ]]

* The above quote from "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Music/RickyMartin.
* Ce Ce Peniston's "Finally" describes her love interest's skin as "cocoa".
* The Music/SergeGainsbourg song "Couleur café"/"Coffee colour"; the coffee image is an extended metaphor throughout the song.
-->"Que j'aime ta couleur café." / "How I love your coffee complexion."
* Musiq and Music/IndiaArie have a duet called "Chocolate High", a love song where both parties are compared to sweet chocolate. Other metaphors used in the song include: 'black coffee with sugar, no cream', 'tasty like Hershey's and Nestle', and 'rich like Godiva'.
* Comedy-Musician Music/StephenLynch has the song 'Vanilla Ice Cream', in which the lyrics go: "I like-a them black girls, them brown girls, them café au lait / Caramel girls and mocha girls just blow me away".
* Labelle's song "Lady Marmalade," about a black/Creole prostitute. "Mocha chocolata ya ya," etc. and her skin "colour of cafe au lait."
* "Caramel" by CityHigh
* "Ice Cream" by the Music/WuTangClan
* "Chocolate City" with a "vanilla suburb," mentioned in the RealLife section below. It's a song and album by Parliament.


[[folder: New Media ]]

* WebAnimation/ZeroPunctuation often describes the ButNotTooBlack skin tone as "dipped in tea" e.g. Sheva Alomar from ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil5''.
* ''Mary Sue Problems'' [[http://marysueproblems.tumblr.com/post/96061245396/so-i-know-that-its-pretty-much-unacceptable-to-compare criticizes this trope]] and says a more straight-forward approach is better. The blog then goes on to show how weird this trope sounds by applying it to other traits.


[[folder: Theatre ]]

* ''Theatre/OnceOnThisIsland'' makes reference to a half-islander, half-French boy - "a beautiful child the pale color of coffee mixed with cream".
* ''Theatre/{{Hair}}'' and the movie based on it contains the song "Black Boys," which while not specifically going directly for the "coffee" comparison uses quite a few food-related metaphors: "Chocolate-flavored love," "licorice lips like candy," and "keep my cocoa handy" among others. The counterpart song "White Boys" limits this to a single reference to milk.


[[folder: Real Life ]]

* Referenced in RealLife by [[TheBigEasy New Orleans]] Mayor Ray Nagin in his [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_nagin#.22Chocolate_City.22 "Chocolate City"]] speeches and comments. He was simply referencing an old Music/ParliamentFunkadelic song about D.C., but the UnfortunateImplications of the comment became an EpicFail that nearly cost him his re-election. His back-pedaling clarification that meant "chocolate ''with milk''" was unintentionally hilarious, however.
* In Creator/StephenColbert's 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner, he describes UsefulNotes/WashingtonDC., as "the chocolate city with a marshmallow center." ("And a graham-cracker crust of corruption... it's a Mallomar, basically.") [[HilariousInHindsight Two years later]], the city's marshmallow center has received its own [[UsefulNotes/BarackObama chocolate center]].
* This is very common in UsefulNotes/{{Brazil}}ian culture, where the very large mixed-race population means that a kind of shorthand is more or less necessary.
* In his memoir, Tim Gunn mentions once working for someone who commented, offhand, that what they really needed for their front desk was a "cafe au lait." It took him a few minutes to figure out that the idiot was talking about a person, not a coffee machine.
* Very common with cosmetics.