The Atomic Manual

In ten years, nothing has generated as much e-mail as the Atomic Espresso maker. Little more than a garden variety aluminum stove-top coffee maker, the Atomic has a mystic appeal and a devoted following the likes of which I have never seen before. This has been on my plate for a long time - get a copy of the manual and transcribe it to the website. Here it is. It has been highly modified to make it slightly more readable. It was almost unintelligible as is. I fixed it up a bit.

I give you, the Atomic manual.

The Atomic Manual from Bon Trading

Using your Atomic Espresso Coffee Maker


filling the atomic

These instructions are for full batches of coffee and it is suggested that you learn to use your machine first by using the full quantities.
Once you have acquired the feel of the Atomic, you may cut down on the quantities.

First rinse out your Atomic. Take the any residue out of the unit by filling it with water and placing it on your stove on high heat and allowing the water to boil through the unit (then into jug).

Coffee is not used at this stage. This procedure is only necessary when Machine is brand new. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
Fill the unit with water. [pic one at left](until water overflows or is visible. Hot water may be used for quicker results.

Screw back black knob. Red Knob is closed.

2. FILL Coffee Filter with finely ground coffee (do not use espresso ground coffee)

Press Coffee down gently with back of spoon. [pic 2 at left]

Clamp Coffee Holder into Head of Unit [pic 3 at left](from straight in front to right.)

3. PLACE Unit onto stove -HEAT on HIGH. In 2 - 4 minutes Coffee will come through into coffee jug, slowly at first, then more quickly toward the end, when it makes a gushing sound. It comes to about 3/4" from top of coffee jug (when Unit has been filled with water. )

4. As coffee comes through (to about 3/4" from top of Coffee Jug), froth and heat the milk. [pic 4 above] Chilled 2% Milk is best for this.

KEEP HEAT HIGH. Froth milk as per instructions on next page THEN TURN HEAT OFF. POUR out the coffee (2-4 cup per cup).

Add the heated milk, spooning the froth into the cups first, then adding the heated milk from underneath. And so you have your cappuccino. After use of the Unit, empty out the remaining water from inside.


IMPORTANT! Black Knob should not be screwed back too tightly, but left reasonably loose, until next use. Failure to observe this (judging by all the e-mail) will result in a frozen black knob!



A. When steam wand is immersed too deeply into the milk, the milk merely swirls around and becomes heated. It will not froth in this position (only heat position in B shows the correct position.

B. In this position a characteristic aerating sound can be heard. Air is drawn into the milk from the surface and drawn down into the milk. If the steam wand is too deep into the milk, then air cannot be drawn into the milk.

1. Using ½ jug of Milk in a One pint jug, quickly place steam wand deep into the milk. Turn red knob several turns to get plenty of steam and then quickly lower the milk until steam wand is in position B(as shown). You will then notice the suction action beginning.
2. Move the jug up and down gently so that the steam wand breaks the surface of the milk.
Gradually lower the jug as the milk begins to rise. It is an up and down action with the jug, keeping the surface of the milk within the depth of the steam wand. This will froth and warm the milk.

To froth the milk successfully, it is necessary to have a good build up of steam (by using the correct grind of coffee and good heat to keep the steam up).

Sometimes it is necessary to pack the coffee down a little into the Holder (ie when the small filter or a lesser quantity is used).
The main points to watch are the grind of Coffee to be consistent. If coarse coffee is used you do not get sufficient build up of steam and will have difficulty frothing the milk.

Fill the filter. HEAT - High Heat is required during the operation. Do not use simmer coils or widely spaced coils.

Froth milk as per Instructions. Sometimes the condition of the milk plays a part. However generally 2% milk is best. A little practice is sometimes necessary at first until you get used to the Unit. Then you will realize just how simple this process is. The Milk Jug suggested is a 1 pt plastic jug. The milk generally doubles itself in volume. Half a jug of milk is suggested to beginners who sometimes overheat and boil the milk, if too little is used. Boiled milk will not froth. IF you are not getting sufficient steam, check the grind of coffee (must be identical to sample) - Heat must be good, - Nozzle holes free from dried milk. - coffee may need packing down a little - maybe insufficient coffee is being used - Red Knob needs to be opened several turns. o IF you have plenty of steam and no frothing - Check action or frothing as illustrated left. If you are overheating the milk, or boiling it, you are placing the Nozzle too deep into the milk. Milk scalds at 170 degree (F) - use an immersion thermometer if you have one.

HOT CHOCOLATE . - Similar process as frothing milk, however you add the Drinking Chocolate and sugar to the milk first. The frothing process mixes, heats & froths the milk. For Hot Chocolate only (no coffee) leave your used coffee in the holder to act as a stopper to build the steam on, put 1 cup of water into the unit to make the steam. Heat for about 2 minute and open Red Knob.

COFFEE EXTRACT for Cakes, over Ice Cream, Instant Real Coffee is made by making the concentrated coffee by using plenty of coffee in filter, and little water, according to requirements.

Making the 2nd batch.

Immediately after the first lot, open Red Knob to see if there is still any steam in the Unit. If so, allow a drop or two of water to run over the unit to break the steam down. Then you may open the Unit and refill it for the next operation. To lift the Unit, remove Coffee Jug, and hold Unit by Coffee Holder Handle.

Multiple batches. - Make 2 or 3 lots of coffee prior - keep hot in a container then make up a final lot when coffee is required. When you make up the final lot, you froth the milk. There is usually enough steam for 3 or 4 jugs of milk.

The Atomic Espresso Maker manual from Bon Trading instructionsMaking less coffee.
- less water and less coffee is used. Water - a cup per cup plus one cup for steam, coffee - according to taste. eg. for two cups of coffee, use 3 cups of water and the smaller filter full of coffee. If less coffee is used, pack coffee down, so as to build up the steam. A small volume of coffee gives little resistance to the steam and so needs packing down a little. Do not over pack too tight, Steam must still penetrate the coffee, but not so quickly.

Maintaining the Atomic. cleaning - this mainly consists of rinsing out the jug and coffee holder(portafilter), wiping the steam wand (usually immediately after use before the milk dries). The main body part of the Atomic may be wiped down using a mild soap. A Silver Polish may be used to polish the Unit. Do not use abrasive materials. Do not immerse the Atomic, when hot, into water.
Steam wand: It should be kept clean. If it becomes clogged with dry milk, it can be unscrewed & cleaned. Generally a little steam released after use keeps this clean inside. - Top Filter Plate in Head of Unit - should be unscrewed and cleaned once every 6 months (should any coffee have got up behind plate) Two screws remove this part. - Storing Unit away for any period - then Unit should be clean, no water left inside, and Black Knob should(must!) be loose.
Do not leave Black Knob tightly screwed to the Unit.

SPARE PARTS - These are rarely called for, therefore not always stocked by Retailers.

Footnotes: To avoid experiencing the tragedy of a seized up "black knob", remove the black knob assembly between each use - unscrew it entirely. Insert cotton wadding into hole to discourage small pests and bugs from crawling in.

Should any parts however be required, these are readily available from Rita at Bon Trading Co., 12-14 Oxford Street, Woollhara. 202: Sydney Telephone: 02 9331 2007

If this manual has been of some use to you, let me know. I appreciate feedback.