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Peppper Grinders Features

Pepper Grinders Design.

Pepper mills may be simple tools but there are still four types to choose among: electric pepper mills, crank pepper mills, upside down pepper mills and pump pepper mills. In a traditional "crank" pepper mill, a shaft connects the domed top or the key/crank to two wheels at the bottom that grind the pepper; the pepper comes out the bottom as you turn the top.
The William Bounds Key Mill WB-1 Pepper Mill 901 (starting at $20), one of our picks for good cheap pepper grinder, the Olde Thompson Aspen Pepper Mill (starting at $17 for a set that includes a salt mill), and the Peugeot Paris U'Select 7-in Pepper Mills (starting at $35) sport the traditional design.

Next come pepper grinders boasting a kind of upside-down design; the OXO Good Grips Pepper Grinder 1140700 (starting at $15) is a prime example. These upside down pepper mills stand upright with the grinding mechanism at the top, and you flip it around to grind and discharge the pepper. The big advantage of this arrangement is the absence of any pepper residue on tables and counters, the presence of which often sparks complaints associated with traditional pepper grinders.

Pump pepper mills make up the third category. With a pump pepper mill, you use one or two levers or a push-button to grind out the pepper. Some models can bill themselves as a one hand pepper mill, like the Vic Firth Pump & Grind Stainless Steel Pepper Mill STS06PM01 (starting at $13), another one of our top picks. The Chef'n Pepper Ball Pepper Mill (starting at $14) has two levers that you squeeze together to grind and release the pepper.

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Finally, we come to cheap electric pepper mills, like the Trudeau Graviti 0716907 (starting at $17) and the Artesio Soft Touch Electric Pepper Grinder (starting at $16). These units are battery-operated and demand minimal manual intervention; the Trudeau Graviti, in fact, relies on gravity to activate the grinding mechanism (just tilt downwards and off it goes).

Pepper Mill Refill.

One of the most annoying aspects of traditional pepper mills is the challenge of refilling them. As with the William Bounds Key Pepper Mill, for example, you have to unscrew the top and pour the peppercorns in through a maddeningly small opening that's obstructed by the grind shaft. Unless you use a tiny funnel or make one with a towel or napkin, you'll probably end up with little pepper seeds all over your kitchen. The Vic Firth Pump & Grind is filled from the bottom, but like the William Bounds, the opening is small and partially blocked by a shaft.

Other inexpensive pepper mills that we researched offer more user-friendly alternatives. The OXO Good Grips Pepper Grinder has a plastic stopper at the top that comes out at refill time, and there's no shaft to get in your way. The Chef'n Pepper Ball features a hatch on the side, and the specs say it comes with a funnel for easier refilling. The process is a bit more complicated with the Trudeau Graviti: remove the motor, fill to the fill line, and then reseat the motor just so or else the unit won't work, as one user reports in a pepper mills review on KitchenDiningIdeas.com.

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