When looking for a new a pepper mill, Chowhounds suggest you ask these questions: Is it easy to load with peppercorns? Can you set the fineness of the grind? Will it produce that grind consistently? Does it have good ergonomics?
A mill with a hand crank is better than one with a rotating knob at the top, kaleokahu says, especially when you need to grind a large amount of pepper. Just make sure the hand crank is long enough to give enough leverage, tim irvine says.
As for brands, several Chowhounds love their Atlas mills, which are easy to load and use and last a long time. Other favorite brands include Peugeot and Cole & Mason. John E. likes his Vic Firth mill, which has a locking mechanism that keeps the grind consistent. And mcf loves the way a Vic Firth grinds large amounts of pepper. The only drawback: It’s a bit awkward to fill. Meanwhile, jmcarthur8 is happy with a PepperMate purchased in the ’70s or ’80s; it does a great coarse grind. Five grinds yield 1/8 teaspoon of pepper—if you buy a quality grinder and measure the grinds-per-teaspoon ratio once, says kaleokahu, you never have to measure again!
Finally, once you do choose a mill you’re happy with, check out these tips on making it last.