#ExcuseMeWhatIsThis: The Atlas Mills

The third in our series #ExcuseMeWhatIsThis, in which we demystify some of the most asked-about items in the shop. Consider yourself decor-educated! 


Maybe you’ve seen them in the shop. More likely—although you may not have noticed them—you’ve seen them in a fancy Instagrammer’s kitchen or in a magazine spread. “They,” of course, being the Atlas pepper and salt mills

Why so popular? And why on earth are they $98 apiece? 

More than just a fancy way to season your food, these gleaming Greek-made mills are a staple of in-the-know cooks because they work. Based on the design of traditional Turkish coffee grinders, which allowed soldiers to prepare their beloved, fine-ground Turkish coffee in the field, Atlas pepper mills have a 100 percent metal mechanism that grabs, cuts, and grinds peppercorns rather than simply smashing them, releasing more flavor from the spice than your typical mill.


The Atlas Salt Mill, left, and the Pepper Mill, right.


The salt mill, meanwhile, is crafted with some plastic components on the interior, which protect the metal from the natural corrosion that can occur with exposure to salt. (If you purchase the duo, an easy way to tell them apart without turning them over is to look for the brass screw heads present on the pepper mill only.)

And yes, while they're costlier than the grinders you’ll find in a big-box store, an Atlas mill is likely to be the last one you’ll ever buy: They’ve been made the same way since 1977, and are designed to last for decades. If you’re lucky enough to stumble on a vintage, patina-worn one at a flea market or antiques shop, give it a few turns—more than likely, it’ll work just fine.

Shop our Atlas salt and pepper mills, and other kitchen classics here.