Starbucks is hoping to shake up the instant coffee market with a new premium range it claims marks the next step in its "natural evolution" from high street chain to retail brand.

Following its debut in the chain's 700 coffeehouses a year ago, Starbucks' Via Ready Brew range is launching into Tesco this weekend, with listings in the rest of the multiples later in the year.

The launch marked the first genuine innovation the instant category had seen in 40 years, claimed Starbucks, adding that it would inject some much-needed premium appeal to the £800m instant coffee market.

"While coffee houses have become a national habit, instant hasn't significantly improved for 40 years," said Brian Waring, vice-president of marketing and category for Starbucks UK and Ireland.

Via comprises single-serve packets of microground arabica coffee beans available in the chain's Italian Roast and Colombia varieties (rsp: £1.39 for a three-pack and £2.99 for a seven-pack). A decaf Italian Roast flavour completes the lineup (rsp: £3.49 per seven pack).

Starbucks said it had taken 20 years to develop the microground technology required to bring the quality of its fresh filter coffee into an instant format suitable for retail.

The launch follows the Via Taste Challenge, which involved 400,000 of Starbucks' coffee house customers sampling Via in March and resulted in almost half of them buying the product.

Waring predicted that the grocery channel would become increasingly important to Starbucks.

"We want a significant share of the soluble coffee market at grocery level and will build new forms and formats of coffee for the grocery channel Via marks the start of that," he said. "It's a natural evolution for us. You can expect significant innovation over the next two years. "

Starbucks will support the NPD with a multimillion pound marketing campaign later this year including newspaper advertising.