Describing Your Atomic - A Grading Scheme

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There is no generally-recognised convention when it comes to describing a vintage atomic. But anyone who has bought a machine described as excellent, only to find the filler knob is frozen or the head filter missing, would probably welcome a standard scheme for description.

It is quite hard to find one in good condition, you may occasionally see them in restaurants or coffee houses but they are not that common. When you do find them, it is annoying if they are not in great condition. That is why we offer a grading system to judge their condition.

The one suggested below is based on the grading scale used by NAWCC - the North American Watch and Clock Collectors association - for describing wristwatches. We adopted this model because Atomics, like wristwatches, have both functional and aesthetic aspects where descriptions can be somewhat subjective. We hope you find it useful, but please don't blame NAWCC if you don't!

New Old Stock

Never used, mint condition, still in original packaging, complete with all original parts and instructions, including coffee grinds sample if applicable.

Mint (99%)

Perfect working and cosmetic condition. All parts included and original. Badge perfect. No scratches or dents, seals flexible, knobs turn freely, screws in filter head removable. Frother (if present) has good steam pressure. Original finish, not re-polished. No corrosion. Original instructions. May be missing box.

Near Mint (90%)

Almost perfect cosmetic condition and works. Badge perfect. May be missing non-essential parts (e.g. one filter basket), or have minor scuffs, dings and scratches to filter baskets. All parts original. Seals useable, knobs turn freely and screws in filter head removable. Frother (if present) has good steam pressure. May have been re-polished. No corrosion. May be missing box and instructions or have photocopy of instructions.

Fine (80%)

Minor scuffs, scratches, dulling, spotting or dents to body, but no pitting of aluminium or chips out of enamel finish. Badge may be slightly worn. May be missing non-essential or replaceable parts. May have been re-polished. Knobs turn, but seals may be hard or missing. Screws in head filter may have minor rusting but can be removed. May need cleaning or de-scaling. Frother (if present) works, but may have poor pressure. May include replacement filler knob or jug handle. May be missing box and instructions, or have photocopy of instructions.

Average (75%)

Body may have moderate dulling, spotting, scratches, scuffs and dents, as may the jug and other components. May be moderate pitting or spotting, seals may be worn or missing. May be missing some non-essential or replaceable parts. Badge may be seriously worn. Knobs turn, but frother knob may be stiff. May need cleaning or de-scaling. May be pressure cracks in filler knob. May be serious rusting of screws in head filter. Still works, but may have poor pressure or steam leaks. Probably missing box and instructions.

Fair (<50%)

Body in poor condition, badge worn or missing. Filler and/or frother knob may be frozen or cracked. May be missing essential parts such as coffee holder or jug. Head filter may be rusted in place. May not be working. Seals hard or missing. Probably missing box and instructions.


Brevetti Robbiati Atomic Coffeemaker


Features to Mention

Frother wand location (none, neck, head)

Brass steam rod in coffee holder

Pressure gauge in head

Aluminium or enamel finish

Different colour bakelite (e.g. green)

Badge (e.g. A & MG Sassoon, Stella, Brevetti Robbiati, Bon Trading, La Sorrentina, Thos. Cara, etc)