What's that? You detected a sweeter, gentler, more luxurious flavor in your Folgers this morning? Why yes, its quality has improved. You liar.
Coffee snobbery, like wine snobbery, is bullshit. The average American who fancies himself a dandy amateur barista would sing the haughty praises of a cup of Cafe Bustelo made in a $20 Mr. Coffee machine if you poured it into an interesting mug and called it "Ethiopian Yirgacheffe" and charged $4.50 for it. So we will assert up front that all but the most drastic changes in the underlying "quality" of mass-produced coffee grounds will be wasted on the general public. That said, Reuters reports that the price of arabica coffee beans (the good ones, relative to robusta beans, the cheaper ones) is falling, meaning more high quality beans in your Maxwell House or whatever. From Reuters:
But drinkers detecting more of arabica's distinctively sweeter, gentler notes in their cup will probably be saying more about the power of suggestion than their discernment, as roasters will only be tinkering with blend changes that consumers are unlikely to notice.
You thought you tasted more prominent notes of arabica in today's cupping? Wrong—you're drinking flat Diet Coke that we warmed up in the microwave. Consumers can't tell the difference!