Consumer Offset Management in Kafka

What is a Consumer Offset?

A Consumer Offset in Kafka marks the position up to which a consumer has read in a particular partition of a topic. This mechanism allows consumers to resume reading from where they left off in case of a restart or failure, ensuring no message is processed more than once or missed.

Storing Offsets in Kafka vs External Stores

Kafka Managed
  • Offsets can be stored in an internal Kafka topic named __consumer_offsets, which provides easy setup and tight integration with Kafka.
External Store
  • Offsets can also be managed externally, such as in a database, offering more control over the offset management process but requiring additional synchronization logic.

How to Reset Consumer Offsets

  1. Using the Consumer API: Directly through methods like
  2. Command Line Tool: Kafka provides --reset-offsets to alter offsets from the command line.
  3. Stream Resetter: Custom tools or scripts can be developed for more complex resetting needs.

Offset Commit Strategies

Automatic Commit
  • The simplest setup, where offsets are committed automatically at a specified interval, but can lead to data loss if the consumer fails before the commit.
Manual Commit
  • Offers more control by allowing the consumer to decide when to commit offsets, thus reducing the chance of data loss or duplicate processing.

Managing Offsets in Consumer Groups

  • Kafka ensures that in a consumer group, each consumer is assigned a unique set of partitions. Offsets are managed per partition, allowing multiple consumers to process data in parallel without overlap.


  1. What is the Kafka internal topic used for storing consumer offsets?
  2. How can you manually commit offsets in Kafka?
  3. What is the command-line tool to reset consumer offsets?
  4. Name two ways to reset consumer offsets programmatically.
  5. Explain the risk associated with automatic offset commits.
  6. How does Kafka manage offsets in a consumer group with multiple consumers?
  7. What method can you use to seek to the earliest offset in a Kafka partition?
  8. What method can you use to seek to the latest offset in a Kafka partition?
  9. What is the default strategy for offset commit in Kafka?
  10. Can offsets be managed by a third-party database? If so, name a disadvantage.
  11. How can you verify the committed offsets for a consumer group in Kafka?
  12. Can multiple consumers in a consumer group commit the same offset?
  13. What are the parameters you can set for auto-committing offsets?
  14. When would you want to use manual offset commits over automatic offset commits?
  15. How are offsets ordered in a Kafka partition?
  16. What happens if an offset is not committed and the consumer fails?
  17. How do you reset offsets for a consumer group for only specific partitions?
  18. What role does the consumer group coordinator play in offset management?
  19. What happens to uncommitted offsets when a consumer leaves a consumer group?
  20. How does Kafka guarantee that each partition is read by only one consumer in a group?
  21. What happens to the offsets when a new partition is added to a topic?
  22. How does the Kafka consumer know which offset to start from when it first starts?
  23. What happens if the offsets committed are out of order?
  24. What is the time complexity of fetching an offset from Kafka’s internal storage?
  25. Can you have multiple offset commit strategies within the same consumer group?


  1. __consumer_offsets
  2. By using the commitSync() or commitAsync() methods in the consumer API.
  4. Using to a specific offset and using consumer.seekToBeginning() or consumer.seekToEnd() for all assigned partitions.
  5. There’s a risk of data loss if the consumer fails before the offset is committed, potentially leading to unprocessed messages upon recovery.
  6. Kafka ensures each consumer in a group is assigned a unique set of partitions and manages offsets for each partition individually to facilitate parallel processing.
  7. consumer.seekToBeginning(Collection<TopicPartition> partitions)
  8. consumer.seekToEnd(Collection<TopicPartition> partitions)
  9. Automatic commit is the default strategy.
  10. Yes, offsets can be managed by a third-party database. A disadvantage is the additional complexity and effort required to synchronize offsets between Kafka and the external system.
  11. By using the --describe command.
  12. No, because each consumer is assigned to unique partitions, and offsets are committed per partition.
  13. for the commit interval and to enable or disable auto-commit.
  14. When you need more control over when and what offsets are committed to ensure exact message processing guarantees.
  15. Offsets are ordered sequentially within each partition.
  16. The consumer will re-read messages from the last committed offset upon recovery, potentially leading to duplicate processing of messages.
  17. You can specify the partitions in with the --reset-offsets option along with --topic and --partition options to specify the partitions.
  18. The coordinator assigns partitions to consumers, facilitates rebalancing, and helps manage offset commits within the group.
  19. Uncommitted offsets are lost, and any new consumer taking over the partition will start consuming from the last committed offset.
  20. Through consumer group rebalance protocol, which ensures exclusive partition assignment to each consumer in the group.
  21. Consumers will start consuming from the earliest or latest offset of the new partition based on their configuration since no offset has been committed for the new partition.
  22. It depends on the consumer’s configuration: it can start from the earliest, latest, or a specific offset if configured.
  23. Kafka maintains sequential order of offsets. Out-of-order commits can lead to incorrect message consumption states, but Kafka’s design inherently prevents this by ensuring offsets are committed in order.
  24. O(1), as it is a direct lookup operation.
  25. No, the offset commit strategy is configured at the consumer level, and all consumers in the group should follow the same strategy to ensure consistent offset management.