Kafka Basics

· November 23, 2019

In this post we are looking into Apache Kafka.

Install Kafka

There are many different ways to install Kafka. We can get the binary from https://kafka.apache.org/downloads or we can use Docker. The fastest way on Mac is installing with Homebrew.

$ brew install kafka

The above will also install Zookeeper.

Homebrew will install the configuration files into /usr/local/etc/kafka/ directory. I prefer to create my own copy of these files. They are included into the https://github.com/altfatterz/learning-kafka

$ git clone https://github.com/altfatterz/learning-kafka

After cloning the repository we need to change the followings:

  • the log.dirs property in the config/server.properties to the <learning-kafka-path>/data/kafka
  • the dataDir property in the config/zookeeper.properties to the value <learning-kafka-path>/data/zookeeper

Start Zookeeper and Kafka

Now we can start Zookeeper and Kafka in separate terminals

$ zookeeper-server-start config/zookeeper.properties
$ kafka-server-start config/server.properties

In the logs we should see

[2019-12-23 16:09:43,145] INFO [KafkaServer id=0] started (kafka.server.KafkaServer)

Kafka Topics

We create a demo-topic with 3 partitions and 1 replication factor.

$ kafka-topics --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --topic demo-topic --create --partitions 3 --replication-factor 1

We can verify the result using:

$ kafka-topics --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --topic demo-topic --describe

Topic:demo-topic	PartitionCount:3	ReplicationFactor:1	Configs:segment.bytes=1073741824
	Topic: demo-topic	Partition: 0	Leader: 0	Replicas: 0	Isr: 0
	Topic: demo-topic	Partition: 1	Leader: 0	Replicas: 0	Isr: 0
	Topic: demo-topic	Partition: 2	Leader: 0	Replicas: 0	Isr: 0

To delete a topic we can use:

$ kafka-topics --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --topic demo-topic --delete

And to see all the topics we use:

$ kafka-topics --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --topic demo-topic --list

Note that the previously used --zookeeper option is deprecated now, instead we can use the --bootstrap-server option.

Kafka Console Consumer

To start a simple consumer we can use the kafka-console-consumer command

$ kafka-console-consumer --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --topic demo-topic

It does not print anything yet since there are no messages in the topic.

Kafka Console Producer

In another terminal we produce some messages with the kafka-console-producer command

$ kafka-console-producer --broker-list --topic demo-topic
>first message
>second message
>third message

In the terminal where the kafka-console-consumer is started we should now see the messages.

Kafka Consumer Groups

By default if we don’t specify a group for the consumer a consumer group will be generated with a single member

$ kafka-consumer-groups --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --list

We can specify a group when defining the consumer.

$ kafka-console-consumer --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --topic demo-topic --group demo-app

Let’s start another kafka-console-consumer with the above command in another terminal with the same demo-app group.

We can monitor the current offset and lag of the consumers connected to the partitions.

$ kafka-consumer-groups --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --group demo-app --describe

GROUP           TOPIC           PARTITION  CURRENT-OFFSET  LOG-END-OFFSET  LAG             CONSUMER-ID                                     HOST            CLIENT-ID
demo-app        demo-topic      0          1               1               0               consumer-1-7e3aa047-c981-4be1-bfac-c0e90305de12 /    consumer-1
demo-app        demo-topic      1          2               2               0               consumer-1-7e3aa047-c981-4be1-bfac-c0e90305de12 /    consumer-1
demo-app        demo-topic      2          2               2               0               consumer-1-a1cf8bb1-5aef-4e09-8d88-d3bdc2ff6f33 /    consumer-1

Here we can see that one consumer is connected to the first two partitions while the other consumer is connected to the third partition.


To connect with Java to a topic we need the following dependency:


We set the following properties to create a KafkaConsumer instance

Properties properties = new Properties();
properties.setProperty(ConsumerConfig.BOOTSTRAP_SERVERS_CONFIG, "localhost:9092");
properties.setProperty(ConsumerConfig.KEY_DESERIALIZER_CLASS_CONFIG, StringDeserializer.class.getName());
properties.setProperty(ConsumerConfig.VALUE_DESERIALIZER_CLASS_CONFIG, StringDeserializer.class.getName());
properties.setProperty(ConsumerConfig.GROUP_ID_CONFIG, "demo-app");

KafkaConsumer<String, String> consumer = new KafkaConsumer<>(properties);

Then we subscribe to the demo-topic topic and poll the consumer for a duration and try again.

// subscribe consumer to topic

// poll for new data
while (true) {
    ConsumerRecords<String, String> records = consumer.poll(Duration.ofMillis(200));
    for (ConsumerRecord<String, String> record : records) {
        logger.info("Key: {}, Value:{}, Partition: {}, Offset: {}", record.key(), record.value(), record.partition(), record.offset());

Next if we produce the Kafka rocks! message with the kafka-console-producer we can see in the logs of our Java based Kafka consumer:

12:04:53.221 [main] INFO  c.g.altfatterz.KafkaConsumerDemo - Key: null, Value:Kafka rocks!, Partition: 2, Offset: 4


We can also produce messages with Java using the KafkaProducer API

// producer properties
Properties properties = new Properties();
properties.setProperty(ProducerConfig.BOOTSTRAP_SERVERS_CONFIG, BOOTSTRAP_SERVERS);
properties.setProperty(ProducerConfig.KEY_SERIALIZER_CLASS_CONFIG, StringSerializer.class.getName());
properties.setProperty(ProducerConfig.VALUE_SERIALIZER_CLASS_CONFIG, StringSerializer.class.getName());

// producer
KafkaProducer<String, String> producer = new KafkaProducer<>(properties);
// create a producer record
ProducerRecord<String, String> record = new ProducerRecord<>(TOPIC, "learning kafka");

logger.info("send message asynchronously");

logger.info("flushing and closing the producer");


In this post we looked into

  1. Starting Zookeeper and Kafka
  2. Useful CLI commands: kafka-topics, kafka-console-consumer, kafka-console-producer, kafka-consumer-groups
  3. The Kafka Java API using KafkaConsumer and KafkaProducer

Source code is available here: https://github.com/altfatterz/learning-kafka