Coffee, tea and maté may cause esophageal cancer (EC) by causing thermal injury to the esophageal mucosa. If so, the risk of EC attributable to thermal injury could be large in populations in which these beverages are commonly consumed. In addition, these drinks may cause or prevent EC via their chemical constituents. Therefore, a large number of epidemiologic studies have investigated the association of an indicator of amount or temperature of use of these drinks or other hot foods and beverages with risk of EC. We conducted a systematic review of these studies and report the results for amount and temperature of use separately. By searching PubMed and the ISI, we found 59 eligible studies. For coffee and tea, there was little evidence for an association between amount of use and EC risk; however, the majority of studies showed an increased risk of EC associated with higher drinking temperature which was statistically significant in most of them. For maté drinking, the number of studies was limited, but they consistently showed that EC risk increased with both amount consumed and temperature, and these 2 were independent risk factors. For other hot foods and drinks, over half of the studies showed statistically significant increased risks of EC associated with higher temperature of intake. Overall, the available results strongly suggest that high-temperature beverage drinking increases the risk of EC. Future studies will require standardized strategies that allow for combining data and results should be reported by histological subtypes of EC.