Sales of posh coffee are up. According to TNS, the roast and ground category was up 12% to £116.6m [52 w/e 18 June], while speciality instant coffee was up 19% in the same period to £90m.

Grant Rosewarne, MD of Douwe Egberts, says this is an interesting time for coffee, with so many new products being launched.

And he knows what he's talking about because his company is launching 22 new lines this autumn.

The big one is Café Switch, a liquid coffee in capsules that consumers mix with water and which Rosewarne says gives "excellent foam and a full-bodied taste".

Before consumers get to grips with liquid coffee, there's the growth of pods, which looks set to continue, in the run-up to Christmas when thousands more Douwe Egberts-linked Senseo and Kraft Tassimo machines are expected to be sold. There are also whispers of a Nestlé version to be launched soon.

Rosewarne says the growth in roast and ground coffee is coming from pods and he expects the new Senseo cappuccino pod to sell well.

But he admits the UK market is tough. "UK consumers are slower on the uptake of technology than other Europeans. That's because they're very happy with their instant coffee, and they are not keen on spending £50-plus on a machine."

One man who is a fan of pods is David Rogers, sales and marketing director of in-home at Lavazza. He says: "The introduction of coffee pod technology is a stepping stone to quality roast and ground coffee. Pods are the bridge between the convenience of instant and the quality of roast and ground."

Rogers adds that there is a certain amount of regionality to roast and ground coffee sales. Lavazza sells very well in London, for example, and he says people in Edinburgh and Manchester are also increasing their consumption of high-quality coffee.

Quality is something that Brian Chapman, MD of Percol, knows all about. Speaking about the increase in the number of fair trade and organic coffees on the market, he says: "Ethics are great but there's no point in having an ethical or organic product if the quality is not good enough."

He is confident that Percol provides the quality and says the fact that foodies are the brand's biggest consumers is proof of this.

For those consumers who can't be bothered with roast and ground and don't want to fork out on a pod machine, there are the speciality instants. Sarah Petts, channel and communications manager at Kraft Foods, reports that Kenco mixes, such as Cappio Regular and Cappio Unsweetened instant coffee cappuccinos, are growing 20.9% and 18.2% respectively [ACNielsen MAT to 1 July 2006]. n