The “doya-gao” phenomenon and where you’re most likely to see it

A calm atmosphere, free Wi-Fi, and decent coffee – what’s not to love about Starbucks (unless you’re a staunch New Englander who swears by Dunkin’)? If you walk into any branch, you will see a line of people waiting to grab their favorite caffeinated pick-me-up. You’re also likely see a bunch of people hunched over their laptops typing away furiously, either by themselves or huddled together in groups. The laptop of choice to go with their steaming mug of coffee? From what we’ve seen, it seems to be a MacBook Air.

Have you ever watched people when they’re silently working on a computer, wondered what they’re up to, and then all of a sudden a smug little grin inexplicably breaks across their face? This self-satisfied look is known as a doya-gao in Japanese. One of our Japanese reporters, who is a frequent patron of Starbucks, recently began to notice a correlation between the frequency of people using MacBook Airs in Starbucks and those wearing a doya-gao expression. Intrigued, she started taking notes, and discovered that there are three branches of Starbucks in Tokyo where the doya-gao phenomenon is particularly common…

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