A very good brand of charcoal is Nitram Academie Fusains. They come in pack of 5 and bear the endorsement “Nitram is the perfect charcoal for students and instructors of the Florence Academy of Art. Its quality and and consistency meets the high standards we demand.” I have used it for portrait drawing and find it much easier to control than vine charcoal. I highly recommend it. It comes in different grades of hardness. Hard, medium, and soft.