When the heat and smoke is going to be in contact with the food I suggest that "Lump" charcoal or "pre -burned wood" be used.
Lump charcoal is basically wood that is pre-burned in a low oxygen environment and packaged for sale to us by others. We can also make our own Lump charcoal by heating/burning/charring wood and saving it for later use
Or we can pre-burn wood in another pit or area that is not heating the cooking area and then transfer the coals to the part of the pit (firebox)that does heat the cooking area, as needed. The point of pre-burning wood before adding it to the firebox of the smoker is to stablize the heat, because flames give off alot more heat than coals and are hard to regulate. And then also to help mellow the smoke.
By mellow the smoke I mean that when wood is still in the fresh or flamable stage, there are often alot of nasties given off that can be somewhat unpleasent tasting on the food in large quanities. Creosote, sap vapors or just plain soot tend to build or escape faster when the wood is flaming. This smoke is what gives us the smoke flavor but a little goes along way and the slow thin blue transparent smoke that just kisses the food is what we are after. Nice thin blue smoke comes best from a nice even bed of coals. Smoke billowing out thick and heavy from green wood or too much uncharred wood, even dry and seasoned, tends to leave a bitter taste on the food.
As for charcoal briquets, I love them. But not for direct food contact. They are great for long stable temps when cooking in a dutch oven but most folks like myself can taste the fillers, binders and even coal that the briquets are made out of. Some brands are better than others at heat and burn rates. And many folks don't seem to mind the taste but for me, not the perfferred fuel for direct heating of the food.
Now, all of the above being said. Depending on how you are heating your pit, you may be adding some wood chunks for the smoke flavor. Traditionally a pit would be fueled by the local hardwood like Hickory, Maple, Pecan or what have you depending on region and the smoke of this fuel is the smoke flavor that you get on your food. But we also have the option of adding different types of wood smoke flavor by adding different "smoking wood" to the fire. Charcoal and pre-burned wood do give flavor to the food but remember that we kind of took away some of its smoke strength by charring it and pre-butning it. Adding exotic unburned wood chunks to the fire will add these smoke flavors to the food being cooked along with the flavor of the fuel wood.