Our History

Founded in Ketchum, Idaho in 1985 by John and Lola Weyman, Zürsun Idaho Heirloom Beans is one of America’s oldest suppliers of heirloom beans and lentils, plus unique grains sourced from around the globe. These heritage plants are typically grown on small family farms, many in Idaho’s Snake River Canyon region, producing exceptionally wholesome and flavorful legumes far superior to typical store-bought varieties.

The Snake River Canyon region of south central Idaho is known as the Magic Valley growing region. This area’s arid climate, rich, well-drained loamy soil, moderate temperatures and stable moisture level is internationally recognized as having ideal environmental conditions for bean growing, producing pure, distinctly flavorful beans.

Jim Soran, a second-generation “bean guy” with over 70 years of family roots in the Idaho bean industry, acquired Zürsun in 2004 from surviving owner and long-time friend Lola Weyman. Sadly, Lola passed away in June of that year. It was her wish that the company she and her husband John founded would continue, and thankfully she entrusted Jim with that mission. Under Jim’s guidance, and with help from farmers and producers who grow beans for Jim, Zürsun heirloom beans are continually inspected during the growing season for plant health, pure strains and consistent appearance. Zürsun delivers beans to customers fresh from the field and impeccably clean. Jim’s passionate focus on producing the best-quality beans ensure Zürsun Idaho Heirloom Beans provides the most amazing, high-quality bean-eating experience.

Jim's Story

Jim’s knowledge and philosophy of the dry bean industry is based on his personal 45-year work experience at Soranco Bean Products Inc., formerly known as South Side Bean Co. and Cello Products Co. Soranco is a Southern Idaho based 2nd generation owner-operated dry edible bean operation with a long-standing reputation for integrity, high quality products, services, and excellence in management. Known as “The Idaho Pinto Bean People”, Soranco consistently provides the best quality Idaho Pinto beans to selected distributors in many states throughout the West, including Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington,

Cello Products Company, and South Side Bean Company, were formed by Robert J.(Bob) Soran and partners in 1947 and 1949. Bob’s son James R. (Jim) Soran began working for the companies in 1974 continuing until the present day. Following the death of Bob Soran in 1991, Jim led the company’s expansion plan substantially increasing its market share of both grower-originated product and end-user customers. In 2000, Jim consolidated the two companies into one, becoming Soranco Bean Products Inc. James R. Soran owns 100% of Soranco corporation’s voting shares.

The company owns all its properties, buildings and equipment located at 150 and 163 South Park Avenue West, Twin Falls, ID 83301. It is an Idaho State Bonded Warehouse holding both ISDA Commodity Dealer and Seed Dealer licenses, along with an ISDA Certified Organic Processor/Handler license. The company is registered with the USDA, the FDA, and in 2013 incorporated a third-party verified, plant-wide Food Safety Program achieving passing scores of 90+ for each annual compliance inspection.

Soranco also houses and manages the operations of Zursun Idaho Heirloom Beans at its’ 163 S Park Ave W location. James R. Soran owns 100% of Soranco Specialties Inc., DBA, Zursun Idaho Heirloom Beans.

In the summer of 2014 Soranco initiated a major physical plant improvement project to increase the speed and efficiency of their Grower Bean receiving line and bulk bean storage. This included the addition of all new high-speed elevators, conveyor belts, related equipment including 4 – 55 ft., 60,000 cubic ft. silos with a total bean storage capacity of 12 million lbs.

In the summer of 2015, Soranco installed an all new, state of the art, high speed dry bean cleaning line, with a 150 HP negative air system allowing for a dust fee operation. This line cleans and conditions grower harvested dry beans at over 4 times the combined speed of their previous two small bean cleaning mills, and is operated by one highly-trained person on a single 40-hour weekly shift, instead of the two shifts required using the old equipment.

SORANCO BEAN PRODUCTS is involved in four distinct activities:

  1. Securing consistent annual harvested quantities of Idaho pinto beans from local grower-producers.
  2. Receiving, storing, conditioning, and cleaning beans to the highest standards demanded by its customers.
  3. Packaging beans under specific private and in-house labels, in various package types and sizes.
  4. Direct wholesale distribution and sales of finished goods to its targeted markets and loyal customers in the western states.

Our Legacy

In Northern Idaho’s verdant Palouse growing region, (from the French word “pelouse”, meaning “green lawn”), Zürsun founder Lola Weyman discovered several farmers growing little-known lentil varieties. During the late 1980s Lola began distributing these American-grown lentils, with orders coming from America, Canada, and Europe. Lola also helped spark interest in new heirloom lentil varieties such as the Montana-grown Black Beluga Lentils® originally named for their resemblance to Beluga caviar; Petite Crimson lentils, smaller and quicker cooking than the standard Red Chief; and the American version of the French – “Lentille du Puy”, known here simply as, French Green Lentils. Today, owner Jim Soran continues the Zürsun Lentil Legacy: a commitment to discover and distribute the world’s finest heirloom lentils.

® – Black Beluga Lentils is a registered trademark of Timeless Seeds, Inc.