Briquette Charcoal – This product is uniform and burns evenly and consistently making it a great choice for smokers and precise cooking when you want to remove some variables and know what to expect. Examples of this may be counting out the number of briquettes into a smoker, some recipes and manufacture descriptions will actually provide this information. From this you have an expected burn temperature, and burn time.
Similarly with Dutch ovens you can place a specific count of briquettes on top and bottom to create a specific temperature, this is particularly important when baking.
Lump Charcoal – This product has more variation in the shape, size, and density of the pieces and is very much related to the initial piece of wood it was created from. Generally it also burns a lot hotter. It can be used for the two tasks above described for the briquettes, however it takes a little bit more experience to get consistent results.
Lump charcoal really is best for use in hot and fast grilling where you are looking for a higher temperatures and precise burn times and minimal tending are not as greater concern.