Heirloom beans! These are special bean varieties that have been passed down by generations of growers. The beans have their own distinct flavors and heritages. For example, here’s a description of the “Tongues of Fire” bean:
A cranberry-type, mottled beige and brown marked bean grown from a seed variety originally collected from Tierra del Fuego, on the tip of South America. This variety later found its way to Italy. A good baking bean. Tenderizes easily while absorbing aromatic herbs and spices well. Popular in New England succotash, a myriad of Italian pasta dishes, side dishes and soups.
You can purchase them by the pound from farms that specialize in heirloom beans.
You can order heirloom beans from these companies: Rancho Gordo sells them for $4.95/pound, The Bean Bag sells a wide range for $3.95/pound and Phipps County Store and Farm has a smaller selection or organic beans for $3.50/pound.