Kafka Consumer CLI Tutorial

How to consume data from Kafka?

The Kafka console consumer CLI, kafka-console-consumer is used to read data from Kafka and output it to standard output. Make sure you have started Kafka beforehand.

CLI Extensions

Use CLI commands with appropriate extensions for your platform, e.g., kafka-console-consumer.bat for windows, for Linux

How to Consume Data in a Kafka Topic using the CLI?

To create a Kafka topic, we need to provide the mandatory parameters:

  • Find your the Kafka hostname and port e.g., localhost:9092

  • Provide the mandatory parameters: topic name

  • If you need to read historical data, using the --from-beginning option.

  • Otherwise, you will only be reading future data

  • Use the CLI.

Important recommendation: do NOT use the `--zookeeper` option

Since Kafka v0.10, the consumer is leveraging a Kafka connection string, not Zookeeper. This is due to how consumer offsets are stored. Any tutorial you see using the --zookeeper option should be considered outdated.


Make sure you have followed the Kafka Producer CLI Tutorial to create and send data to a Kafka topic first.

Consuming only the future messages of a Kafka topic

1 --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --topic first_topic

Consuming all historical messages and future ones in a Kafka topic

Use the --from-beginning option

1 --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --topic first_topic --from-beginning

To exit the Kafka console producer, use the keyboard combination Ctrl+C.

Command Output

1 2 3 4 Hello World My name is Conduktor I love Kafka ^CProcessed a total of 3 messages (<-- when doing a Ctrl+C to exit)

The Kafka Console Consumer will remain opened until you exit it, and will keep on displaying messages to the screen. It assumes all the messages coming in can be deserialized as text (String).

By default, the Kafka Console Consumer does not show the key, or any partition information.

If you do not see any output but you know your Kafka topic has data in it, don't forget to use the --from-beginning option.

Important note on message ordering

The order of messages is not total, it is per partition. As a topic may be created with more than one partition, the order is only guaranteed at the partition level. If you try with only one partition, you will see total ordering.


Here are the common mistakes and caveats with the command:

Messages by default will not display the key or metadata information (see below for how to do it).

  • When you start a kafka-console-consumer, unless specifying the --from-beginning option, only future messages will be displayed and read.

  • If the topic does not exist, the console consumer will automatically create it with default

  • You can consume multiple topics at a time with a comma-delimited list or a pattern.

  • If a consumer group id is not specified, the kafka-console-consumer generates a random consumer group.

  • If messages do not appear in order, remember that the order is at the partition level, not at the topic level.

Extra Important options you can set (advanced)


We won't repeat this one enough. To read all historical messages


To display messages in a particular format (example below to display keys)


To pass in any consumer property, such as the setting


By default a random consumer group ID is chosen, but you can override it with this option. See the demo in the Kafka Consumers in Group CLI Tutorial.


Number of messages to consume before exiting


If you want to only consume from a specific partition.

How to consume a Kafka Topic and show both the key and value using the Kafka Console Consumer CLI?

By default, the console consumer will show only the value of the Kafka record. Using this command you can show both the key and value.

Using the formatter and using the properties print.timestamp=true print.key=true print.value=true:

1 2 3 4 5 --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --topic first_topic --formatter --property print.timestamp=true --property print.key=true --property print.value=true --from-beginning CreateTime:1641810588071 null hello CreateTime:1641823304170 name Stephane CreateTime:1641823301294 example key example value

More properties are available such as:

  • print.partition

  • print.offset

  • print.headers

  • key.separator

  • line.separator

  • headers.separator

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Kafka Consumer Screenshot from Conduktor
Kafka Consumer in Conduktor
Kafka Consumer Details Conduktor Screenshot
Kafka Consumer Details In Conduktor
Kafka Consumer screenshot of advanced options available in Conduktor
Kafka Consumer Advanced Options