You don’t have to worry that having a cup of coffee or two is bad for you. Studies have shown that coffee may actually protect against certain diseases, such as diabetes and depression. But there has been some debate as to whether drinking coffee raises the odds of getting cancer. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), you can relax.

In reviewing more than 1,000 studies, 23 scientists brought together by IARC concluded that java does not increase your cancer risk. That led the agency, which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), to reverse its stance (set in 1991) that coffee is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.“ The scientists concluded that studies that showed a link between coffee and cancer may have failed to control for cigarette smoking, which often goes hand in hand with heavy coffee drinking.  

But IARC’s findings also give new meaning to that “caution: hot” warning on your to-go cup of coffee. Drinking very hot beverages—about 150°F or higher—appears to increase cancer risk, especially esophageal cancer. That conclusion was based on studies of people who frequently drink mate, a traditional South American drink made by steeping leaves of the yerba mate tree that’s often served very hot. Mate that’s served not quite so steaming was not associated with greater cancer risk.

Coffee is often served at temperatures between 160° and 185°F. Hot coffee can scald your tongue and mask the brew’s flavors,” says Maxine Siegel, R.D., who oversees Consumer Reports’ coffee testing. “As it cools, the flavor profile changes. Great coffee tastes great cool, but bad coffee won’t taste so good.” What’s the best temperature? According to Joseph DeRupo, a spokesperson for the National Coffee Association, most Americans drink their cup of coffee at 140°F, a temperature where the flavors come through, but won't scald your tongue.