This is the story of how one family created Better Bean, a company based in Portland, Oregon which is helping people, and school children, to enjoy eating more beans.

As a young college student Keith Kullberg developed the recipe for his refried red beans. These delicious and nutritious beans became a favorite meal of his two daughters, Hannah and Brooke, his wife Rocio, and eventually his grandkids and extended family and friends.

For years, while Keith shared his recipes with family and friends, he begrudged the fact that he couldn’t buy tasty, ready to eat beans at grocery stores. In 2009, while on a hike an inspiration struck Keith. “Everyone loves my beans – I need to bring them to market”. For Keith, canning his beans was not an option.  Inspired by fresh salsa and pasta sauces, Keith put his beans in deli tubs and sold them fresh in the refrigerated section of grocery stores.

In 2010, the Kullberg family launched Better Bean, embarking on a journey to provide fresh, tasty and accessible bean products. They sold their beans in local stores and farmers markets around Portland. The community agreed that their fresh, ready to eat prepared beans really did taste better, plus were very healthy.  Many customers said that they were enjoying beans in their weekly meal plan for the first time. Better Bean distribution spread to stores and food service operators in other states and grew to 12 different recipes.

Fast forward to 2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Better Bean was given the opportunity to introduce tasty bean snacks to school kids by the Portland Public School System. School districts needed snack kits they could hand out since their cafeterias were closed.   Better Bean was asked to start providing Cuban Black Beans and Hummus in small single serve cups for snack boxes. They were a hit! Other Oregon school districts followed. Today districts from Washington, Oregon and California use their single serves for healthy snacks.

Last year Better Bean launched a new product: Tomato White Bean Soup, which proved to be perfect for a cold day in winter, spring, fall.  The tomato white bean soup uses white beans instead of cream to make the soup taste creamy – and it is a perfect way to sneak more beans into kids’ diets as even the most finicky kids love tomato soup. 

Lily Ivanov, assistant director of Food Services from Downey California, shared her experience incorporating the soup into her school menus: “We served the tomato soup yesterday, (it was a cold rainy day, perfect weather for soup). Thank you for creatingsuch a good product made from great ingredients!”

Better Bean joined the Beans is How mission to double bean consumption by 2028. Eating more beans is good for the planet and public health.  Replacing animal proteins with beans helps fight climate change, as livestock generates as much greenhouse gas as automobiles in the USA.  Eating legumes is linked to health and longevity in both the blue zone and Mediterranean diets.  However, Americans don’t eat a lot of beans per capita.  One reason is that cooking beans from scratch is hard and canned beans are not appetizing.  Better Bean solves that by making it easy for people to eat more beans because they are both delicious and convenient.

Better Beans can also be used as an ingredient in recipes. For example, bean bowls are very popular, and our Cuban Black Beans are a perfect fit with brown rice, avocado, pico de gallo, salsa verde, cheese, and sunflower seeds.

Better Bean, co-founders Keith and Rocio are proud members of Beans is How, and invite you to try Better Beans and join their mission to make it easy and tasty for people to eat more beans!


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