How to easily run Kafka with Docker for Development

Kafka is becoming a popular addition to microservice oriented architectures. Despite its popularity, it may be tricky to run it on your development machine- especially if you run Windows. In this short article, I will show you a simple way to run Kafka locally with Docker.

In order to run Kafka, you need a Zookeeper instance and Kafka instance. You also need these two instances to be able to talk to each other.

Setting up kafka net

Docker provides us with a concept of docker net. We can create a dedicated net on which the containers will be able to talk to each other:

docker network create kafka

With the network kafka created, we can create the containers. I will use the images provided by, as they are up to date and well documented.

Configuring the Zookeeper container

First, we create a Zookeeper image, using port 2181 and our kafka net. I use fixed version rather than latest, to guarantee that the example will work for you. If you want to use a different version of the image, feel free to experiment:

docker run –net=kafka -d –name=zookeeper -e ZOOKEEPER_CLIENT_PORT=2181 confluentinc/cp-zookeeper:4.1.0

Configuring the Kafka container

With the Zookeeper container up and running, you can create the Kafka container. We will place it on the kafka net, expose port 9092 as this will be the port for communicating and set a few extra parameters to work correctly with Zookeeper:

docker run –net=kafka -d -p 9092:9092 –name=kafka -e KAFKA_ZOOKEEPER_CONNECT=zookeeper:2181 -e KAFKA_ADVERTISED_LISTENERS=PLAINTEXT://kafka:9092 -e KAFKA_OFFSETS_TOPIC_REPLICATION_FACTOR=1 confluentinc/cp-kafka:4.1.0

Connecting to Kafka – DNS editing

One last catch here is that Kafka may not respond correctly when contacted on localhost:9092– the Docker communication happens via kafka:9092.

You can do that easily on Windows by editing the hostfile located in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts. You want to add the line pointing kafka to Your hostfile should look something like this:

You can see the line pointing kafka to

If you are using OS other than Windows, you need to do an equivalent trick- pointing your kafka to

With that all setup you can connect to your Kafka locally at kafka:9092! Congratulations!


This is not a production setup, rather a simple setup aimed at local development and experimenting. Once you understand how Kafka works you can customize it as you please. Hopefully, this article will save you a large amount of time I spent trying to get Dockerized Kafka to work on Windows!