20 May2014

This copper Atlas pepper mill from Greece was a gift from bettyq when we visited Vancouver a few years ago. It is the most handsome of pepper mills in our home, particularly striking in this pose with the morning sunlight shining directly on it. It has kept up a coarse to fine grind (adjustable) for several years now, has a spacious well for whole peppercorns and it is a real conversation piece that guests almost always ask about.

We find that grinding pepper at the last second to augment a bowl of pasta, a hot soup, a crisp salad, a hunk of meat, or some grilled seafood is a really essential step. There’s nothing quite like the aroma of freshly ground black pepper, and we manage to keep enough of it in stock, tellicherry black peppercorns are amongst the best you can get.

But if the Atlas is the “showy” sibling, our several classic shaped beech wood pepper mills (in two different sizes) with Peugeot grinding mechanisms are the house staple at the moment. Yes, the mechanism is made by the car company I gather, and it works brilliantly and consistently. They also last a long time despite abuse in the kitchen over the years.

There’s something really satisfying about twisting the top of a wooden pepper mill and seeing the ground pepper pepper the food. These peugeot’s aren’t cheap, but they aren’t super pricey either. Totally worth the money and they last a while.

The Peugeot’s replaced what was the family favorite for many years, the iconic Perfex aluminum pepper grinder. Original Perfex pepper mills worked really nicely, and the easy load feature for the peppercorns was a plus. I used to love my Perfex pepper mills so much I bought the smallest one they made and brought it with me on business trips so I could use it when I ordered room service from hotels (I used to live in hotels for many years while consulting). I lost several pepper mills after leaving them on my trays and only the best of hotels ever found them and returned them to me on my subsequent visit(s). We started to have some malfunctioning problems with some of our Perfex’s which prompted Mrs. MM to try the Peugeot’s and we switched allegiances after that — the latter were more reliable and cheaper to boot.

Atlas Pepper Mill – Approximately $50-60 (discounted Amazon price, normally $80 or so)
Peugeot Pepper Mill – Approximately $45-60 depending on size (full retail)
Perfex Pepper Mill – Approximately $89 (full retail)



  1. Connie C says:

    BettyQ’s Greek peppermill would be the senior friendly one for me as the aging hand does not take to the twisting and turning movement for operation of the regular mills, but I’d love to get hold of one of Bruce’s Lim’s tiny mills which he just pushes back and forth to pepper and salt his food.

    May 20, 2014 | 5:07 am


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  3. Footloose says:

    I have a still reliable Unicorn Magnum Plus that was recommended by Cook’s Illustrated some twenty years ago to replace a tired turned wooden one I bought in 1971.

    Did you know that the long turned wood pepper mills wielded by waiters in old fashioned restaurants are called Rubirosas. Google Rubirosa Pepper Mill to find out.

    May 20, 2014 | 6:41 am

  4. john paul sarabia says:

    i don’t have a pepper mill up to now coz i don’t know what is good and for many other factors- but now i know thank you.

    May 20, 2014 | 7:28 am

  5. Clarissa says:

    MIne is a cheap glass one with a ceramic grinder I got from Landmark. Ended up buying two cuz they were just about P150 then, and about the size of the big wooden one. Been years and still surviving. Glad I have more than gotten it’s worth. Hahaha.

    I bought kampot peppers from Cambodia on a recent trip. They smell different and taste really good. But I haven’t tried the tellicherry. :)

    May 20, 2014 | 7:44 am

  6. KK in Bermuda says:

    Peugeot Electric Pepper Mill is still the best. Been using it for more than 2 years & replaced the battery only once. It is very convenient because it can be used by just one hand & has the option to adjust the coarseness of grinding. Got it for $95 at a chef shop here in the island.

    May 20, 2014 | 7:57 am

  7. Connie C says:

    Ha, ha, ha, MM, there goes Footloose again. The Rubirosa legend peppered my day!

    May 20, 2014 | 8:30 am

  8. Marketman says:

    Footloose, how in lard’s name do you remember all of this trivia? I am so amused. Laughed out loud actually.

    May 20, 2014 | 8:40 am

  9. Lee says:

    I googled Rubirosa and then realized that my pepper mill is a Perfex.

    May 20, 2014 | 11:01 am

  10. dianne says:

    “There’s something really satisfying about twisting the top of a wooden pepper mill and seeing the ground pepper pepper the food.” – yes! and the aroma, like you said. I don’t like buying ground pepper because it sometimes has this burnt smell and taste and I heard some unscrupulous producers mix in ground dried ampalaya seeds. tsk tsk…

    May 20, 2014 | 1:56 pm

  11. Betchay says:

    Amusing and interesting. Just finished reading Vanity Fair’s The legend of Rubirosa…what a life! thanks Footloose! :)

    May 20, 2014 | 2:43 pm

  12. Footloose says:

    @Lee, as I wrote above, mine is a magnum so no pepper mill envy there either.

    May 20, 2014 | 6:46 pm

  13. Connie C says:

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Lee and Footloose.

    May 20, 2014 | 8:31 pm

  14. betty q. says:

    Footloose, MM, and Lee!…don’t now if you are aware but there is a PINKY pepper mill! …not kidding! That is the name if the pepper mill!…beats your Rubirosa, Magnum!!!!

    One of these days, I would like to own a PINKY!

    May 20, 2014 | 9:04 pm

  15. Lee says:

    I think I overstated my previous answer. I’m just a McCormick pepper bottle with built-in grinder.

    May 20, 2014 | 11:39 pm

  16. Monty says:

    Footloose, we’ve also been using the Unicorn Magnum Plus based on the Cook’s Illustrated recommendation, and it does produce quite a bit of fresh pepper with every turn. The magazine though has replaced the Magnum as their best pepper mill, with the Cole & Mason as their new favorite. The new winner apparently had better precision in terms of grind size. We’ve been using the Magnum for more than a decade now (actually broke one already) and really like the rather coarse grind we get out of it.

    I just wish someone would grow Kampot peppers here.

    May 21, 2014 | 12:24 am

  17. Footloose says:

    Mine is going on twenty-one and will likely survive me. My only quarrel with it was it needed an under-plate to catch all the stray grounds which I solved with a Stilton Blue cheese ceramic packaging in the form of a milk jug. Having grown up in a household whose pepper mill of choice and necessity was an almirez, I am not too exacting when it comes to ground particle precision.

    May 21, 2014 | 2:45 am

  18. Sunny says:

    bettyq, I goggled the pinky pepper grinder and saw one on eBay for $5k. Wow!

    May 21, 2014 | 10:36 am

  19. Antonio Aguado says:

    Having had several pepper mills expire, I eventually have settled on 2 workhorses which have lasted: a Greek like yours set to fine grind for white pepper and a turkish of similar construction set to black coarse grind. The turkish is my favorite, easy to adjust with a smooth mechanism. Both are robust and destined to become heirlooms. There is also a similar smaller turkish coffee mill with built in receptacle, which is rarely used and grinds exceedingly fine.

    May 27, 2014 | 10:43 am


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