|Bodum salt and pepper mills.|
Freshly ground pepper just cannot compare to pre-ground for freshness and flavour.
So, a good quality mill that will release the aroma and essential oil of pepper to the dish, is a definitely a kitchen essential. A manual one is perfectly fine for the home, while restaurants might need the electric ones.
Ideally, one which has a grind mechanism made of the steel (carbon or case-hardened steel can have have deep, sharp grooves and serrations), or ceramic, which is strong.
It is best to avoid cheap pepper grinders, especially acrylic-based ones which get easily clogged, might even flake off into the food. Not only are they not as strong, but they also tend to spray pepper all around, while the grind settings keep getting loosened.
Black, white and dried green peppercorns work well in mills. Pink peppercorns in small quantities, when mixed with these, can also be ground, as can usually dried coriander seeds.
Other spices need to be used in mills that are designed specifically for them.
The Salt Mill is not essential, though certainly nice to have, especially if you like sets, like I do. Great to sprinkle coarsely ground crystals - especially gourmet salts.
Salt mills are best either with corrosion-resistant Stainless Steel, or ceramic mechanisms, which are very hard (though brittle, and more prone to breaking), and will not get corroded as steel would especially with a hygroscopic medium like salt.
Which one? I'm very happy with my Bodum salt and pepper mills, though I can't help looking at this great one from Peugeot, who incidentally, were the pioneers of this gadget in 1874 and still make it pretty much like the original (they are the same guys who make the car). It seems, they also make six unique spice-specific mechanisms plus the original burr-style coffee grinder!
It it highly rated too. According to the review by The Sweethome, "it was the first pepper mill, ever, and it’s still the best."