Chocolate Purveyors is a blog series where we connect and discuss everything chocolate with both makers and enthusiasts. This discussion is with George Domurot, founder of Ranger Chocolate.

Based on family recipes and named for founder George Domurot’s niece, a National Park Service Forest Ranger, Ranger Chocolate Company carefully handles each cacao bean to unlock nuance, regionality, and terroir-driven flavors in their chocolate.

Ranger’s addictive granolas, caramel sauce, and gourmet candy bars complement their two-ingredient single-origin bars for a unique product line. Like all good Rangers, they also take care of the planet, using candy bar proceeds to plant trees and take care of wildlife.

George Domurot

Photo Credit Ranger Chocolate

Do you remember your first experience with real chocolate? What was it?

One of my earliest memories of chocolate is probably common with many other folks. I remember climbing on a chair in the kitchen and pulling down the baking chocolate bar stashed away in the upper cupboard. I loved chocolate, and this bar was just out of my reach. I was so excited to finally get the box open and take a bite of that big bar. Shocked by the bitterness, I liked it!

How did you decide to start a chocolate company?

Many of my family members have influenced my relationship with food and sharing it with others. Our family tree includes a pharmacy, grocery store, restaurant, and cooking school. As a kid, our family would send us Oregon preserves and homemade candy. When I visited my grandparents, everything had to be scratch-made.

In 2007 I had decided to open up a chocolate company. At the same time, the modern mobile era had landed. I was temporarily pulled into the mobile app design world but returned to focus on chocolate in 2013. In the years from 2007 to 2013, the craft chocolate industry had tremendously grown and changed. I was excited to see the focus on minimal ingredients. With my scratch-made focus, I set out to bring our project online that included a cafe and retail experience.

I wanted to create a place where we could experiment and showcase our products. If we can make it onsite, we will try — from our made to order drinking chocolate, house-made alternative milks to our fresh baked treats.

How should the perfect chocolate bar taste?

What represents a perfect chocolate bar today is not what we expected in the past. Our pallets and exceptions have changed over the years — even more so over the last decade. We demand the best of everything. The chocolate that blew our minds in the 80's and 90’s simply won’t due.

We must have the least number and highest quality of ingredients, all handled with care and in the most sustainable way from farm to mouth. The ultimate bar for me is a single ingredient bar with a balanced taste of citrus and cacao with a smooth bitter chocolate finish and creamy texture.

Ranger Chocolate

Photo Credit Ranger Chocolate

Do you have a favourite pairing with chocolate? (Coffee, Beer, Wine, Cheese etc.)

I have two favorite personal pairings with chocolate. In the morning I love a piece of 100% single ingredient chocolate with coffee — it’s the best way to get the day going. My other favorite is a homemade drinking chocolate made with peanut butter and sea salt.

How much did living in a foodie city like Portland affect your chocolate making?

What makes Portland, and Oregon, so special is the craft and artisan culture at its core. This culture is everywhere, from city planning and development to technology and art — and most certainly food. You see this culture everywhere you go and in every industry of every size, from little pups like Ranger to mega-companies like Nike.

Portland has helped me achieve so many personal goals in this lifetime. Most certainly Ranger would not be what it is today without the love and support of the Portland community.

What is your personal favourite terroir to work with?

Peru has a soft spot in my heart. It was my first love.

Ranger Chocolate

Photo Credit Ranger Chocolate

For someone trying Ranger Chocolate for the first time, what chocolate would you give them to try?

For straight-up chocolate, my current favorite is Polochic from Guatemala — at 80% it’s an amazing balance of sweet and bitter. Its creamy texture is unmatched for a two-ingredient chocolate bar.

If you love to drink red wine with your chocolate, Sam Martin from Peru is on the menu. This bar enhances both the chocolate and wine experience.

I’ve learned over the years, each person’s desire for what they want out of chocolate varies. With craft chocolate, it’s important to try by origin instead of percentages. Percentages can be deceiving, as it doesn’t always determine how sweet the bar will taste. While keeping your staples around, I recommend people always try something new.

Do you prefer hot chocolate or coffee in the morning?

Every morning I have a strong cup of coffee with real cream alongside a piece of 100% chocolate. If I could only have one, it would have to be 100% chocolate.

What chocolate are you eating from other makers these days?

I have a sweet spot for Dandelion Chocolate. Their company culture has been inclusive and supporting of new makers. It has been great to see and taste how their chocolate has evolved over the years. I have been enjoying two of their bars recently: Tumaco, Columbia (malty), and Maya Mountain, Belize (fruity).
For a milk bar, I like Dick Taylor’s milk chocolate bar, in the 50% cacao range. While it has a lower percentage of cacao than Ranger’s Dark Milk, their partnership with a milk producer in their region really shines through on this bar. If you like milk chocolate and see this bar, snatch it up!

What does the future hold for Ranger Chocolate?

As Ranger grows, it’s important that our culture remains focused on trying out new ideas. I have refocused our efforts this year around improving our processes, experimentation, and collaboration. The team has an exciting line-up of collaborative products in the works and an exciting set of new Ranger branded bars moving through packaging and design — watch for them this fall!

Ranger Chocolate

Photo Credit Ranger Chocolate

We want to thank George for taking the time to answer our questions, and we hope you learned more about George and Ranger Chocolate.

You can purchase the full Ranger Chocolate collection at our online store.

September 11, 2023